Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)

Do I have to live with Tinnitus?

It is normal to hear a ringing in your ears especially afterlistening to loud music. It usually lasts only a few seconds or minutes. If itpersists for longer than a day, then this is abnormal. When long term, this cancause loss of sleep, depression and reduced performance in all spheres of life.Patients with constant abnormal noises in the ear (tinnitus) believe or aretold that it is incurable and they’ll have to learn to live with it. Howeverthey should see their doctor for an ENT opinion because tinnitus could be asign of serious underlying disease and can be cured or at least improved inmost cases.

What can causetinnitus?

The commonest form of tinnitus is caused by hearing lossrelated to noise exposure or age. Sensory ‘hair’ cells in the inner ear arelost usually from the high frequencies first. Local conditions causing deafnesslike earwax, glue ear, infection, otosclerosis, acoustic neuroma andperforation can be cured by an ENT surgeon.

However general conditions like anaemia, high bloodpressure, stress, thyroid disease and diabetes are treatable causes of tinnituswhich is a side effect of some medications too.

Blood flow alterations cause pulsing tinnitus caused bynarrowed blood vessels, sudden weight changes or external pressure from atumour. Tinnitus which is pulsatile should not be ignored.

Your consultation

The doctor will want to know detail about the noise such as:

1)   How long has it been present?

2)   What does the noise sound like?

3)   Is it heard on one side or both?

4)   Is it constant or intermittent, stable or slowlygetting louder?

5)   Did it start suddenly after an incident or come ongradually?

 You will have an examination of your ears and perhaps nose,balance and neck. You will have a hearing test. Depending on the result, youmay be sent for a scan.

Treatment options

Once a diagnosis is made (or at least suspected) you may besuitable for some of the following treatments:

1)   Dewaxing or surgery

2)   Hearing Aid

3)   Medication

4)   Masking devices

5)   Cognitive therapy

6)   Mindfulness training