Tinnitus not uncommon at any age
TINNITUS is an abnormal noise, or noises, heard within the ear. A common condition, it can occur at any age and can severely affect quality of life.
The types of noises which are involved include ringing, buzzing, whistling, roaring and humming.
Tinnitus may be constant or may come and go, varying in loudness and character.
Signals are sent from the ear to the hearing part of the brain via the auditory nerve. Tinnitus is caused when the brain, for unknown reasons, interprets these signals as noise. Occasionally there is a secondary cause for tinnitus. These include:
* A head injury or ear injury
* An ear infection
* Some ear disorders
* The onset of age-related hearing loss
* Exposure to very loud noise for prolonged periods
* Anaemia, thyroid disease or diabetes
* A tumour called an acoustic neuroma
* Side effects of certain medications
Coping with tinnitus can be difficult, leading to anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, loss of interest in work and leisure, as well as relationship difficulties.
In a small number of cases there is an underlying cause which may be corrected, such as discontinuing contributory medications.
In most cases, however, there is no cure. In the absence of a cure, therapies are aimed at management of tinnitus. With time, the condition may become less of a problem. The following adjustments may prove effective:
* Avoidance of loud sounds and noisy places
* Avoidance of quiet or silent rooms
* Actively ignoring noise by turning attention elsewhere to make the tinnitus less noticeable
* Sufficient rest and regular exercise
* Avoiding stressful situations
* Use of hearing aids in hearing impaired patients may boost normal sounds, helping to override the tinnitus
It is important to remember that with time, the majority of sufferers learn to live with tinnitus and can enjoy a good quality of life in spite of the condition.