First posted - 7th February 2012
From 6th to 12th February 2012 it is National Tinnitus Awareness week.
So what is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is where a person can hear sounds or noises in their ears without there being an external cause for this noise. The sounds themselves seem to be within the ear channels themselves but on examination there is no physical cause for it. It seems that the brain gets confused by the nerve signals coming from ears.
The word 'Tinnitus' comes from the Latin word meaning 'ringing'. This gives an indication as to what the sounds can be like. Some sufferers hear ringing, for others it's buzzing, hissing or whistling.
As well as the type of sound varying, the location, pitch and continuity of the sounds also varies from person to person.
Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus is not a disease but a symptom of something else. The exact causes for tinnitus starting is not fully understood by the medical world.
However the following may often precede tinnitus:
- Head injury
- exposure to loud noise
- Severe or chronic ear infections
- Hyperactive thyroid disease
Tinnitus can occur to anyone of any age, it's not just restricted to older people. It is thought that up to 10% of the population suffers from tinnitus at some stage in their life.
The sounds can disrupt sleep and a lack of concentration. This can lead to anxiety and even depression.
Treatments for Tinnitus
If someone is suffering from any ear disorders or noises in the ears it is best to get this looked at by a medical professional to rule out any serious problems. They may refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist too.
Generally, if there is an underlying cause and this can be found and it can be treated it will diminish the sounds.
Some sufferers find using 'white noise' a good way to mask out the sounds in their ears, as it's usually most noticeable when sitting in silence.
Some people find that their tinnitus gets worse when they are stressed or anxious so some form of relaxation therapy could aid this.
If anxiety and depression are present the medical team may treat using anti-depressants and counselling.
A number of sufferers turn to Complementary Therapies as a way to manage their tinnitus. Some use Reflexology, Ear candling, Massage and Acupuncture. There are some herbal remedies that some people find beneficial too, but it's always best to seek the advice from a medical herbalist first.
I have a few clients who come to me for treatments to help manage their tinnitus. I use a mix of Vodder Manual Lymph drainage massage around face and neck, ear candling and reflexology (some use just 1 of these, and some have all 3). Each treatment aids deep relaxation too.
If you suffer from tinnitus and would like more information or support, or if you would like more information about how to help during Tinnitus Awareness Week then take a look at the British Tinnitus Association website.
Update - 9th February 2022
This year it is Tinnitus Week from 7th to 13th February 2022.
I'm writing this update as it has been 10 years since the blog post above was written. The most recent update is linked with the news this week about setting up and supporting a Tinnitus Biobank, and it was all over the media including the BBC news.
But sadly there really isn't that much more extra progress in helping those who are suffering with tinnitus and equally they do not get even a fraction of the funding for research as comparable other conditions.
And it's now looking as if quite a few people who have long covid have developed symptoms of tinnitus too.
If you are experiencing tinnitus then please visit the British Tinnitus Association website as they have so much information and advice on there, including support groups.