I hear a ringing, but I don’t know where it is: the nature of tinnitus

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The ringing of a bell, the buzzing of bees, the roar of the ocean are all pleasant sounds. People with tinnitus hear something like this all the time, but these sounds have nothing to do with reality. And to the satisfaction – too.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the sensation of sound that has no external source. You may even be familiar with him. If you have periodically “buzzing in both ears”, like Freken Bock, but others do not notice this noise – this is it.

What are phantom sounds?

Tinnitus can manifest itself as ringing, clicking, humming, hissing, whistling, roaring, buzzing, or even music. It can be from one or both sides at once. May be subtle or interfere with concentration, sleep, and real sounds. Be temporary or permanent. Appear from the inside of the head, or appear as if outside. This sound is amplified at night when not drowned out by the background noise of everyday life.

Why is there a sound if there is none?

A healthy ear works like this. Sound waves travel through the ear canal to the inner ear. There, the cochlear hair cells convert sound into electrical signals. These signals travel along the auditory nerve to the cerebral cortex, where we are aware of what we hear.

When the microfibers of the snail are damaged, the signal going to the brain is disrupted. This causes inadequate neuronal activity, resulting in the illusion of sound.

Photo: CC0 Public Domain

Why do hair cells break?

The most common cause is prolonged exposure to loud noise. Builders, rock musicians, runway workers – these people are at risk. You, too, may notice residual buzzing in your head when you leave a concert or club. Some sensitive people can develop tinnitus even after being stunned once.

Other circumstances and conditions sometimes also provoke phantom sounds:

  • Sulfur plugs, ear and nose infections, benign acoustic neuroma.
  • About 200 drugs can be toxic to the ear. These include aspirin, pain relievers, loop diuretics, antidepressants.
  • Meniere’s disease, when the inner ear is affected and dizziness and hearing loss come along with tinnitus.
  • Otosclerosis: a disorder of the ossicles in the middle ear.
  • Temporomandibular joint problems.
  • Thyroid disease or diabetes.
  • Head and neck injuries.

For unknown reasons, stress and fatigue increase tinnitus.

AT 1% cases of tinnitus occurs due to real sound from inside the body. This is the so-called objective tinnitus. It is associated with vascular disease and sounds like pulsation. The doctor can hear such a barely noticeable sound with a stethoscope.

When to see a doctor if your ears are noisy?

  • The noise is accompanied by pain or discharge from the ear.
  • Along with the sound, dizziness and instability appeared.
  • Your hearing has become worse.
  • Tinnitus is constant and interferes with your life.

Is tinnitus always a sign of impending deafness?

In most cases, tinnitus does not indicate a serious medical condition. Although the symptom often accompanies hearing loss, it is not the cause of deafness. Also, hearing impairment does not necessarily cause tinnitus.

Tinnitus is not cured?

In most cases, it really is not cured. But in some situations it is easy to help: rinse the sulfur plug, cure the infection, straighten the temporomandibular joint, replace the medicine.

Even incurable tinnitus does not always require intervention. More than a third of those polled by the American Tinnitus Association reportedthat phantom sounds do not interfere too much with their lives.

I hear a ringing, but I don't know where it is: the nature of tinnitus
Фото: American Tinnitus Association

For those who get tinnitus into depression, sleep disturbances and social isolation, we have come up with several ways to cope with the problem. The essence of this “treatment” is to learn to ignore the sound. For noise masking, applications or hearing aids are used that interrupt the tinnitus with white noise, nature sounds or music.

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