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.
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.