Tinnitus is the medical term for “hearing” noises in the ears when there are no external sounds.
The sounds you hear may be soft or loud and may sound like whistling, blowing, roaring, buzzing, wheezing, whispering or squeaking . One may even think that he is listening to the escape of air, running water, the interior of a marine snail, or musical notes.
Tinnitus is common.
Almost everyone experiences a mild form of tinnitus from time to time, which lasts only a few minutes. However, constant or recurrent tinnitus is stressful and can make concentrating or sleeping difficult.
It is not known with certainty what makes a person “hear” sounds, when there is no external sound source.
However, tinnitus can be a symptom of almost any auditory problem, such as:
• Ear infections
• Foreign bodies or cerumen in the ear
• Hearing loss due to loud noises
• Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder that involves hearing loss and vertigo
• The consumption of alcohol, caffeine, antibiotics, acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) and other drugs can also cause ringing in the ears.
• Tinnitus can present with hearing loss. Sometimes, it is a sign of high blood pressure, an allergy or anemia. Rarely, tinnitus is a sign of a serious problem, such as a tumor or an aneurysm.
Tinnitus can be masked with other sounds: Music at low volume, ticking of clocks, or other noises, can help you not notice tinnitus. Tinnitus is often noticed more when going to bed at night , since the surroundings are quieter. Any sound in the room, such as a humidifier, a machine that produces uniform noises, or a fan, can help to mask the tinnitus and make it less irritating.
• Learn some ways to relax.
• Stress does not cause tinnitus, but feeling stressed or anxious can make it worse.
• Avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.
• Get plenty of rest.
• Try to sleep with your head raised in an elevated position.
• This decreases congestion in the head and noise may become less noticeable.
• Protect your ears and hearing from further damage.
• Avoid loud places and sounds • Use earplugs if you need them.
Check with your doctor or nurse if:
• Noises in the ears begin after a head injury.
• Noises present with other unexplained symptoms such as dizziness, loss of balance, nausea or vomiting.
• Unexplained auditory noise is present and is annoying to you even after applying self-help measures.
• Noise occurs only in one ear and continues for several weeks or longer.
The following exams can be done:
• Audiology / audiometry to assess hearing loss
• Computed tomography of the head
• Magnetic resonance of the head
• Vascular studies (angiography). Check with your doctor about all your current medications, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and supplements.
Do not stop taking any medication without first checking with your doctor.
Many medications have been used to relieve tinnitus symptoms, but not all drugs work for everyone.