The ringing or buzzing noise in the ear is clinically called Tinnitus. It is the perception of sound in the head or ears. Tinnitus is an otological symptom and is always a simple sound described in terms of familiar monotone noises such as hissing, roaring, ringing, etc. This constant buzz or ringing, usually doesn’t mean anything serious, however, it is distressing and interferes with sleep if it sustains for a long time.
The loss of sleep and constant buzz may push one towards mental trauma and severe mental illness if not treated. Tinnitus may be either unilateral (one ear) or bilateral (both ears). It may be synchronous with the pulse, buzzing, rumbling, hammering like an escape of steam, the sound of bells, and so on. Tinnitus indicates some disturbance of the auditory (hearing) mechanism, of the sense organ, or its central connection. Onlymyhealth spoke to Dr. Nassirruddin, ENT Specialist from Apollo Spectra Hospital, Kondapur, Hyderabad, to know about Tinnitus.
Types of Tinnitus
1. Subjective- In this condition, the ringing noise is only heard and experienced by the patient only. Even the doctor can’t hear it during the diagnosis.
2. Objective- In this type of condition, the doctor who is treating it, can hear it by the auscultation.
Also read: 7 Doctor Prescribed Remedies For Tinnitus Hearing Problem
Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus can be a symbol of hearing loss in some severe conditions, but it can also occur without any severe underlying causes. Some of the common causes of the ringing sensation and buzzing sound in the ears and head are pressure due to impacted wax, whiplash, head injury, loud noise exposure, etc. It can also be caused due to medical conditions like middle ear catarrh, secretory otitis media, and otosclerosis- an inherited disorder causing hearing loss. Some of the other causes of Tinnitus are:
1. General- High blood pressure, anemia, renal[kidney], or heart diseases may be psychogenic.
2. Drugs- Salicylates, quinine, and streptomycin like ototoxic drugs.
3. Trauma- Rupture of the oval or round window of the middle ear. Disrupted ossicles[hearing bones], senile deafness, noise trauma, etc
4. Tumors – Glomus jugulare, acoustic neuroma, etc can also be the cause of this.
5. Idiopathic– Where the cause is not known.
If the ringing noise seems to stay for a long term or seems permanent, it is advised to visit an ENT Specialist. The causes and the treatment can be prescribed only after a detailed ear examination. The audiogram and other audiological tests are performed to examine the condition and if necessary CT Scan and MRI, to find out the causative factors.
Also read: 5 Things You Should Avoid In Tinnitus
Treatment is immediately required for the patients to bring a sense of normalcy back in their life, as Tinnitus interrupts their daily activities. The patients suffering from tinnitus may also at times need psychological therapy, to provide a sense of reassurance, as it disturbs the mental well-being of the patients. One can take Conservative therapy with drugs like vasodilators, sedatives, and tranquilisers after the recommendation of the doctors. Some of the other methods for the treatment of tinnitus are:
1. Tinnitus maskers - If the cause of the ringing noise is not diagnosed, then this technique is used to mask the constant ringing noise. A masker is a machine that produces ‘white noise' to mask out the internal tinnitus noise.
2. Surgery - Depending on the cause under certain conditions surgical treatments like endolymphatic sac decompression, cryosurgery of the cochlea, intra tympanic injection of alcohol, etc are suggested.
3. Acupuncture, and hypnosis, have been tried with varied responses.
4. Recently tinnitus retraining therapy has been tried with promising results, which is one-to-one counseling
5. Sound therapy
It can have serious implications on the physical as well as mental well-being of the patients. One must immediately consult a doctor in case they experience the above-mentioned signs of Tinnitus.