Tinnitus can be best described as a sound that you can hear in your ear but there is usually no external sound in the surrounding environment.
Can be classified as subjective or objective tinnitus . The former is when only the patient can hear the sound , and this is in the majority of cases. The latter is when the patient and the Doctor can hear the sound.
For majority of cases it is temporary but can be more permanent in about 1 in 100 people.
The sound has many descriptions ranging from a ringing/buzzing/ humming/whistling/ pulse or beat.
The sound can be continuous or come and go , can also affect one ear or both .
Majority of causes
Although tinnitus can occur across most age group the commonest is age related and through working in loud environments . Both impacted ear wax and ear infections can cause tinnitus.
In some instances certain medications can also cause tinnitus such as antibiotics (doxycycline/minocycline/ erythromycin ) , some water tablets and malaria medications (quinine/ chloroquin). This is not an a full list of medications.
Tinnitus can on occasions be a symptom of low iron , thyroid disease or diabetes
Minority of causes
In some instance there are underlying cardiac or neurological causes . A neurological cause includes an acoustic nueroma this usually causes a more persistent and only one ear is affected - If your symptoms are similar then you should see a doctor to eliminate this as a cause .
Cardiac causes such as problems with blood vessels and nerves can be a cause but are very rare .
The diagnosis for tinnitus is one that has been based on the assessment of your symptoms but in some instances this can also involve a hearing test or a specialist doctor who may decide to carry out further test such as a brain scan or some blood tests to see if there are any other possible causes ( low iron , thyroid disease or diabetes).
Treatment is based on how to manage the symptoms in some instance a cure is possible depending on the underlying cause of it .
Some treatments that have helped include having some background noise as the tinnitus is more noticeable during quiet times like bedtimes.
Where tinnitus has had such an impact on day to day activities and has caused low mood anti depressants (SSRIs)maybe prescribed together with counselling therapy.
Tinnitus retraining therapy at a specialist clinic can be effective but can take up to a year and does not involve stopping the tinnitus but about learning to manage the symptoms.