Tinnitus – Diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosis of the disease: The doctor analysis your ears, head, and neck in order to find the reasons for tinnitus. Following tests are done for this purpose: Hearing (audiological) exam a person is required to sit in a soundless room and is made to wear headphones. Special audios are played in each of the ears […]

Diagnosis of the disease:

The doctor analysis your ears, head, and neck in order to find the reasons for tinnitus. Following tests are done for this purpose:

  • Hearing (audiological) exam a person is required to sit in a soundless room and is made to wear headphones. Special audios are played in each of the ears one by one. A person’s ability to hear sounds are compared with the ability of hearing sounds of a normal person. It can identify tinnitus.
  • Movement of organs the doctor can ask a person to rotate his eyes, his neck, and other parts of the body. It the tinnitus changes or the condition becomes worse, then the doctor can find the reason behind it.
  • Imaging tests CRI and MRI tests can also identify tinnitus.

The sounds which a patient can hear properly can tell the doctors about the possible causes of tinnitus.

  • Clicking sounds the reason for tinnitus can be determined by the strong clicking sounds in the form of burst which a person hears for several minutes.
  • Humming sounds it is a sound that occurs during exercises and changing positions.
  • Heartbeat. in tinnitus the rate of the heartbeat can be increased by blocked vessels.
  • Low-pitched ringing in tinnitus, the low pitched sounds in ears become louder and a person sees objects around him spinning.
  • High-pitched ringing loud noises can cause high pitched ringing and buzzing sounds that go after a few hours. In tinnitus, hearing loss also occurs.
  • Other sounds hardened inner bones of ears (otosclerosis) can cause low-pitched tinnitus that may be continuous or may come and go. Earwax, objects from outside or hair in the inner ear can rub against the eardrum, causing various sounds.

Treatment

Treating the health condition causing it:

For a successful tinnitus treatment, the doctor will find the reasons which cause the symptoms of tinnitus. If it is occurring due to any health problem, then the doctor is able to take measures. Noise is reduced after the measures. These measures are:

  • Removal of Earwax: Hardened Earwax can be removed in order to reduce symptoms of tinnitus.
  • Improving a blood vessel condition. Some problematic conditions of blood vessels can be cured by the use of medicines, surgery, etc.
  • Changing the medicines: If the medicines which a person uses is the cause of tinnitus then the doctors can change them.

Suppression of Noise:

Sometimes, white noise can reduce troublesome sounds. Doctors give electronic devices to suppress the noise. Such devices include:

  • White noise machines:  These devices give some environmental sounds like rainfall or ocean waves and are often a useful treatment for tinnitus. White noise machines with pillow speakers can help you sleep as well. Fans, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and air conditioners in the bedroom also may help cover the internal noise at night.
  • Hearing aids machines: These machines are used when there are hearing problems along with tinnitus.
  • Masking devices. These are similar to hearing aids and are used inside ears, these devices give a continuous, low-level white noise that suppresses tinnitus symptoms.
  • Tinnitus retraining. A wearable device produces specifically programmed tonal music to counter the certain frequencies of the tinnitus you experience. With the passage of time, this technique may make you habitual to the tinnitus, thereby helping you not to focus on it. Counseling is required to retain tinnitus as well.

Medicines:

Medicines help supplement the pain but they don’t treat. Some medicines include:

  • Antidepressants like amitriptyline and nortriptyline: These medicines have been used with some successful results. But, these antidepressants are generally used for only serious cases of tinnitus. These medicines can cause side effects, like dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation and heart problems.
  • Alprazolam (Xanax): It can reduce the symptoms of tinnitus, but its negative effects can include drowsiness and nausea. People can become addict to it as well.

Lifestyle and home remedies:

Tinnitus has no cure. In most cases, you learn to live with the problem. Making adjustments so as the symptoms less bothersome is required. These remedies can be helpful:

  • Avoid possible irritants that decrease your exposure to the irritants that may make your tinnitus more problematic. Daily life examples include loud noises, caffeine, and nicotine.
  • Lessen the noise in a quiet setting, a fan, soft music, or low-volume radio static may help reduce the noise from tinnitus.
  • Management of stress can worsen the case of tinnitus. Management of stress through relaxation therapies, biofeedback, or exercise, may provide some relief.
  • Reduction in the use of alcohol taking so much alcohol increases the force of your blood by dilating your blood vessels, causing greater blood flow, especially in the inner ear area.

Alternative medicine

Since there is no medicine for tinnitus some alternative therapies have been tried for tinnitus treatment. This include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Hypnosis
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Melatonin
  • Zinc supplements
  • Vitamin B supplements

Neuromodulation using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive therapy without pain that has been proved to be successful in reducing tinnitus symptoms in some of the cases. At present, this medicine is used commonly in Europe and in some trials in the USA. It is unknown which patients can get benefit from it.

Coping and support:

It is not always possible that tinnitus is permanently cured with treatment. Here are some methods to help patients to cope with it:

  • Counseling a professional therapist or psychologist can help people with tinnitus to learn coping methods to make tinnitus symptoms less troublesome. It can also make patients learn other problems often linked to tinnitus, like anxiety and depression.
  • Support groups are places where sharing your experience with others who have tinnitus can be helpful. There are tinnitus groups that meet in person, as well as internet forums. To ensure that the information you get in the group is accurate, it’s best to choose a group facilitated by a physician, audiologist, or other qualified health professional.
  • Education is quite helpful in that patients learn as much as they can about tinnitus. It can help them to decrease the symptoms.

Preparing for your appointment

For easier doctor treatment the patients should be able to tell the doctor;

  • Their signs and symptoms
  • Their medical history, including their general health conditions like hearing loss, high blood pressure or clogged arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • The medicines they take, including herbal remedies.

Expectations from the doctor:

Some of the questions asked by the doctors are;

  • Time at which symptoms appeared.
  • What does the noise you hear sound like?
  • Is the noise in one or both ears?
  • Has the sound you hear been continuous, or does it come and go?
  • The loudness of the noise
  • How much does the noise bother you?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
  • Have you been exposed to loud noises?
  • Have you had an ear disease or head injury?

If you are diagnosed with tinnitus it is recommended to see an ear, nose, and throat doctor (otolaryngologist). Working with a hearing expert (audiologist) is also recomended.

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