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Know the possible causes of ringing in the ears (Tinnitus)

ringing in the ears
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Are you suddenly hearing noises in your ears that you did not hear before? Are these just voices in your head and nobody else is hearing them? Then your body might just be crying out for help as you might be showing symptoms of hearing loss, middle ear infection or Meniere’s Disease. This is a condition and a symptom of a bigger concern. To understand your problem better, read on…

What is the condition of ringing ears called?

  • In this condition, there is a sudden ringing in the ears, or a similar sound like buzzing, hissing, chirping or whistling, that can be either intermittent or continuous, and vary in loudness. If this is the case, then you are suffering from Tinnitus.
  • It tends to get worse with low background noise causing disruption in sleep or loss of concentration in a quiet room. In rare cases, the ringing follows the rhythm of your pulse, this is called pulsatile tinnitus.
  • It is a common condition where mostly the situation is annoying. But when it escalates to concentrating and sleeping, it is leading towards psychological distress.
  • Tinnitus is usually linked to hearing loss, however, it does not cause the loss, nor does hearing loss cause tinnitus. Some patients have no difficulty hearing, and others might be acutely sensitive to sound (hyperacusis) requiring steps to mask external noises.
  • Some are linked to underlying infections or blockages in the ear. However, if the ringing does not go away after the ear is free of infection, then there might be bigger concerns to address.

This condition can be permanent or recurring, as it can come and go. Most people have subjective tinnitus, which means these are noises which only you can hear. These may be low-pitched or high-pitched, in one ear or both ears. But mostly it impacts one’s ability to concentrate or pay attention to external sounds.

In some rare cases, the noise is linked to your pulse rhythm. That means you will hear a pulse or whoosh with every heartbeat. This is referred to as objective or pulsatile tinnitus and can be heard by your physician when they examine you.

What causes ringing in our ears?

Having prolonged exposure to loud noises is a common cause of tinnitus or ringing of the ears. The noise can cause permanent damage to the cochlea in our inner ear because the cells in this region are sensitive to noise. This can be an occupational hazard for carpenters, musicians, pilots, etc. who are repeatedly exposed to loud sounds. A single exposure to loud noise from headphones can also cause tinnitus.

Hearing loss caused due to the above can also be a cause of tinnitus. Inside our inner ear are tiny, delicate hair cells that move when it receives sound waves. This triggers signals from your ear to your brain (auditory nerve), which in turn interprets these signals as sounds. If these hairs become bent or broken, due to ageing or constant exposure to loud noises, they can leak random signals to your brain making you hear hissing or similar kinds of noises.

Some other causes of tinnitus can be:

  • Ear blockage due to wax build-up/ infection or tumour on the auditory nerve.
  • As a potential side effect of certain kinds of medications and prescription drugs.
  • Ageing-related issues lead to loss of hearing.
  • Meniere’s disease in our inner ear.
  • Otosclerosis is caused by the stiffening of bones in our middle ear.
  • Blunt trauma, high blood pressure, circulatory problems, anaemia, diabetes, underactive thyroid gland, autoimmune disease, etc.

Whatever the symptom, excessive stress and lack of sleep can worsen the condition and lead to complications. This also includes excessive consumption of alcohol, caffeine or caffeinated drinks. Existing health conditions can also worsen with tinnitus.

When to see a doctor?

If any of the above problems exist then it is advisable to visit an ENT specialist and get your ears checked. Otherwise, if you have had an upper respiratory infection, like a common cold, and the ringing in the ears doesn’t subside in a week, then definitely seek medical help.

Apart from these, there are some other reasons why tinnitus can happen. So ask yourself the following questions:

Do you have high blood pressure?

High blood pressure makes you more likely to develop tinnitus. In these kinds of patients, an associated underlying condition of narrowing arteries, called atherosclerosis is also found. This can also lead to ringing in the ears and has a far deeper impact than it seems on the surface.

Do you drink a lot of alcohol?

Alcohol levels can also impact your ears. When you consume too much, your nerves go for a toss impacting your hearing. Cut back on your consumption and it will make a difference.

Are you under a pile of stress?

When your nerves are affected by anxiety or depression, it can trigger tinnitus. Try to relax or opt for therapy or yoga. This will not only help you manage the condition but also improve your overall health.

How to stop the ringing in your ears?

The treatment will depend on the actual cause.

  • If triggered by medication, the doctor will either change it or prescribe you to stop the medicine completely.
  • If triggered by high blood pressure, your doctor will provide you with treatment options to keep the pressure normal and improve the constant ringing by keeping it under control.
  • If the trigger is an accumulation of earwax, then avoid the cotton swab and get it clinically cleaned by the ENT.
  • In some cases, it is triggered due to vitamin B12 deficiency, which means a well-balanced diet will help.
  • Coffee is known to increase blood pressure which in turn will affect your ears. Hence lower your caffeine consumption for better results.

In all other cases, one might prescribe hearing aids and other such options that will help control and contain the condition. It must be kept in mind that tinnitus once found does not go away. It can’t be eliminated but can definitely be managed with proper supervision.

At the CK Birla Hospital, we ensure patients get their problems addressed in the most cost-effective and convenient way. This is why our patient-oriented approach makes us the most preferred healthcare service provider in Delhi NCR. To ensure your ears are fine, book a consultation with the best ENT in Delhi NCR. Call now to book an appointment.

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