What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus can arise from any of the four main compartments that make up the ear – the inner ear, outer ear, middle ear and the brain. Some of the noises heard by tinnitus sufferers are normal noises our bodies make. The average person is usually not aware of these ongoing noises because outside noises are usually more distinctive and louder.
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If all these outside noises disappear, the noises from inside the body would be more audible. When the ear is blocked, for example, if you have wax in your ear, you will realize that you can hear and be more aware of noises within your body.
Tinnitus can be aggravated by infection or fluid in the middle ear. Often, aging can cause a loss of hearing and this can also bring on tinnitus. Exposure to loud noises is another common cause for tinnitus. Many people are not aware of the different level of noises they hear on a daily basis. But in fact, these very noises can cause damage to the ears and cause tinnitus. Very high volume music, firearms and constant loud noise are some of the associated causes of tinnitus.
There are certain medications that can cause tinnitus. Aspirin is an example. On very rare occasions, tinnitus can be a symptom of a very serious medical condition such as an aneurysm or a brain tumour. All this can be easily worked out by visiting your local doctor. He or she will run tests and usually consist of a medical history, physical examination, and certain special test which are designed mainly to look for the causes of tinnitus.
Tests such as an audiogram, an ABR (auditory brain stem response), a test of the hearing nerves and brain pathways, CT scan (computer tomography scan) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) are a few of these examples.
When sound waves go through the air into the ear canal, the eardrum will vibrate. Tinnitus is believed to be a symptom of damage nerves that is responsible for hearing. Tinnitus is still a big medical puzzle and to people who are suffering from this problem, a lot still have not find the right remedy for them. They are not only suffering from the constant ringing but also continue to have issues in their daily life.
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Probable Causes Of Tinnitus
If one has determined that they are unfortunately struck with tinnitus, they may begin to wonder exactly how this occurred. While we have already discussed some potential causes, it is also important to discuss on a more scientific level what the ear goes through when it comes to tinnitus. There are a vast number of auditory cells inside the ear. These cells maintain a specific electrical charge in the ear, and there are tiny, microscopic hairs that cover these auditory cells.
In a healthy and normal ear, the hairs inside the ear and on these auditory cells will move in response to the vibrations, or the noises, that the ear hears. The sound waves moving up the ear canal are able to move the hairs, which in turn trigger the electric charge to strike through the thousands of auditory nerves that are in the ear and this travels to the brain, which works to decipher the sound out of these signals.
Obviously, when one experiences tinnitus, this is not the reaction that takes place between the sound and the ear or the brain. Instead, what occurs is that the delicate hairs in the ear can become bent or broken, which would clearly affect the ways in which they responded to vibrations. This is because they are moving in random and unpredictable ways, because the hairs are constantly feeling irritated. Unable to continuously hold the charge, as the healthy auditory cells do, the charge leaks and the brain deciphers these leaks as noises.
So what is it that damages ears in this manner? As we discussed, there are a number of regular activities that can cause damage to the ear if no precaution is taken. Still, there are certain other causes that will result in this type of damage.
One of the causes would be an age related hearing loss process, which typically starts around age 60. This is referred to as presbycusis. Another cause would be a result of noise damage to one’s ear or ears, which was already explored. This erosion of the hearing takes place over time in most instances.
Loud machines such as tractors or tools such as chainsaws are a couple of the devices that can erode the hearing to the degree that the sensitive hairs on the auditory cells are damaged with tinnitus and hearing loss as the result.
Some of the causes of tinnitus are less known. These are the important causes to educate individuals on because they are more innocuous and inoffensive to the senses when compared to the previously stated causes. However, they are nonetheless dangerous when it comes to causing tinnitus.
In a few cases, discontinued use of the medication ceases the noises in the ear. Some of the medications include prolonged aspirin use and the extended use of certain antibiotics that have an effect on the cells inside of the ear. As expected, it is also important to note that damage or trauma to one’s head or neck can also shift the bones in the ear. When these bones shift or stiffen, this can affect the middle or inner ear, which has an effect on one’s hearing.
A specific type of tinnitus can also occur when there are certain problems in an individual’s blood vessels. This is known as pulsatile tinnitus which is often the result of higher than normal cholesterol levels. One of the problems that occur in this situation is known as Atherosclerosis. This is a problem that occurs within the body as it gets older.
As the cholesterol gathers in blood vessels, and specifically those near the ear, the blood pressure can become more turbulent in its effort to force through some of the deposits. As a result, the beats are more excessive and the vibrations are easier for the ear to pick up. Hypertension, alcohol consumption and caffeine are some of the components that can increase the sound that is heard in the ear of this pulsing.
Your diet is important
What may offer some tinnitus relief is while it cannot be conclusively proven that the problem can be taken care of entirely by avoiding the ingestion of certain foods and drinks, there are some studies that prove there are certain materials that are more likely to trigger ringing in the ears in some people. Therefore, by being aware of this, some individuals may be able to take preventative measures or at the very least make them aware that tinnitus could be a side effect of an allergy to the particular item in question.
Some of the most common food and drink allergies that would result in ear ringing are as follows: red wine, cheese, alcoholic drinks that are made from grain, chocolate candies or drinks and some types of cheese. Less likely culprits, but still those that have been able to contribute to the condition include honey, soy, various soy products, bananas that are very ripe, anything with MSG in it, avocados and various types of citrus fruits that can be purchased at the grocery store.
One very controversial element in what may cause ear ringing would be the compound known as aspartame. Be very careful of Aspartame! Aspartame is the main ingredient in alternative sweeteners, such as Equal and Sweet ‘N Low. This particular ingredient, aspartame, has been alleged to contribute to a number of different and potentially serious health problems, including vertigo and ringing in the ears.
While this cannot always be conclusively prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, it is something that people who suffer from ringing in the ears and who use those types of products may want to be made aware of, in the event that ceasing to use this product could help them in their fight against a ringing in the ears.
Another controversial point to mention is that some marijuana users may have noticed that this drug can make already existing cases of ear ringing worse over time as the usage continues.
How to keep track of your tinnitus
If you suffer from tinnitus or constant ringing in ears and seek treatment for this condition, you will be asked these questions:
- “How often do you suffer from tinnitus?”
- “When did you first notice your problem?”
- “Is it worse when you eat certain foods?”
- “How often do you have sleepless nights over this problem?”
This is some of the information the doctor will ask and use to help him or her to make that diagnosis and treatment plan for you. I would say most of the time; patients do not know the answers to these questions. They never thought about when this symptom started bothering them; they just know it does. They probably have not keep track of how many times this issue has flares up; they just know it will happen.
This is why keeping a journal or a log will help when it comes to the treatment that you are looking for. A journal can help by allowing many issues to be written down as you experience them. This will definitely take all the guesswork out of answering all the questions that you know your doctor will ask when you see them.
For example, when you start taking any types of medications for this problem, a good way of knowing your progress is by keeping track of them. This is when your journal comes in. In a way, it will also help you to remember your current medications as well as those you no longer take. Mark my work, your doctor will definitely love this as it becomes easier for him or her to look into your current problem as this may help him to point out any reasons for your tinnitus.
So, how do you go about keeping a journal to help yourself as well as your doctor? First of all, what you need is a notebook, doesn’t matter the size, as long something that you can get around with and few extra more pages won’t hurt. Trust me, from experience, you can use a fair bit of pages here.
This will be used as your journal and you can start writing down anything related to your tinnitus. You can divide the pages into days. In this way you can log in daily information and happenings easily. For example, you can put in the following information to see if there is a pattern of changes to your tinnitus and anything you do on a regular basis that can make it worse:What you eat – Write down everything that you have eaten or drank for the day, from the time you wake up until you go to bed. What medications you are taking at the present moment, any type of exercise that you do, or any new habits or new treatments that you may be trying. Remember to write this down in your journal daily.
Keep track of your pain levels too, if this associates with your tinnitus. Is the weather has anything to do with your symptoms? Is it more badly in winter, for example? What other symptoms have you experienced on top of tinnitus? There are many things you may notice in this process and its absolutely important for you to write this down in your journal. If nothing is bothering you on a particular day, then just write down how you feel on the day. Hope these tips help.