What is tinnitus?A hearing test or audiometry is used to diagnose diseases of the hearing organs. Typical fields of application are incipient deafness but also auditory sounds such as tinnitus .
Tinnitus (tinnitus auriumfg) is understood to mean ear noises of various kinds. These may be persistent or recurring noises and sounds which, without external acoustic stimulation, can only be perceived subjectively by the person concerned. The triggers for tinnitus can be in the ear or brain.
It is divided into three different types. In acute tinnitus, the symptoms last up to three months. If subacute tinnitus is present, the symptoms persist for three months to twelve months. Chronic tinnitus is referred to when the ear noises have been present for more than twelve months.
Furthermore, it is classified into four different degrees of severity. Compensated tinnitus includes grades I and II. This species does not cause any health problems. Grades III and IV are called decompensated tinnitus. He already has serious health effects.
The causes of tinnitus can be in a variety of areas. Within the auditory canal, earwax, protruding bones (exostoxia) or foreign bodies can cause tinnitus. In the middle ear this can be caused by a defect in the eardrum. But even a tube dysfunction, a tympanostomy, an eardrum immobility or a middle ear infection can lead to tinnitus.
The inner ear can be a trigger for tinnitus due to a noise or age-related hearing impairment as well as medication or high blood pressure drop. In addition, meningitis, anemia, false blood pressure, multiple sclerosis or a brain tumor can lead to tinnitus. Ear noises or tinnitus can also occur as a symptom in the context of a hearing loss.
Typical symptoms & signs
The leading symptom of tinnitus is the sensation of sound in the ear. These can sound like rushing, humming, buzzing, crackling, ringing, hissing or whistling. Depending on the degree of manifestation and intensity, tinnitus symptoms can be very heavy.
Only with an objective tinnitus can another person perceive the noises in the affected person's ear. In most cases, these are ear noises, which are described as subjective tinnitus. Only the person affected is burdened with it. Others can not hear the sounds of the ears, even if they are perceived as loud and disabling.
However, the tinnitus sounds are not imagined. They may be caused by tense neck muscles, constant stress, hearing damage or other triggers and are therefore real. With a corresponding intensity level, they can burden those affected so that they suffer from complications.
Often the triggers of tinnitus are not detected, so the symptoms persist. This can lead to symptoms such as depression, irritability, difficulty concentrating, headache, dizziness, high-pitched drowsiness, insomnia or disability. In case of severe complaints, participation in social activities is disturbed. There is sometimes a social retreat because hearing is made more difficult by tinnitus.
The accompanying symptoms also call physicians secondary symptoms. These can lead to a veritable tinnitus vicious circle. This culminates in depression, social withdrawal and disability.
The complications associated with tinnitus can be divided into two categories: firstly, complications related to an underlying disease, and secondly complications due to tinnitus.
The first complications range from sequelae due to nerve damage to the complications of inflammation, Meniere's disease, vasoconstriction, or thrombosis in the affected area. It is in cases where the underlying condition is known to look at these.
In most cases, however, tinnitus remains untreated without complications. Thus only a few percent of all affected people experience serious or permanent complaints. Rarely, due to the tinnitus itself (due to a narrowing of the vessels that causes it), it can lead to decreased hearing and deafness.
An over-stimulation of the sense of hearing (hyperacusis) is possible: sufferers suffer from an enormously increased perception of noises, which causes pain. Chronic tinnitus can also set up and leads to a permanent burden on those affected. Chronic tinnitus is often accompanied by mental problems ranging from depression to suicide. However, adequate tinnitus therapy can prevent this.
When should you go to the doctor?
If the typical ringing or beeping occurs, a doctor should be consulted. Constant or repeated ear noises indicate a tinnitus, which must be examined by a doctor. A doctor should be consulted within a week, as long as the symptoms have not subsided in the meantime. In 50 percent of cases, tinnitus persists for just a few hours to days. If it disappears by itself, no medical clarification is needed. For repeated complaints the ear specialist should be switched on. Accompanying symptoms such as headache, dizziness or fever indicate a serious cause.
The person concerned must quickly visit a specialist and have the complaints cleared up. Otherwise, the tinnitus may increase or even persist permanently. In the worst case threatens the hearing loss. Patients suffering from chronic tinnitus should inform the doctor about increasing symptoms. Tinnitus is treated by an ear specialist. A first suspected diagnosis can usually also ask the family doctor. In case of stress-related tinnitus, the patient may need to consult a therapist so that the causes of the stress can be broken down and corrected. The sooner the tinnitus is treated, the better the chances of recovery.
Treatment & Therapy
Successful treatment of tinnitus depends on the causes as well as the duration of the disease. Therefore, there is also the previously mentioned classification. The success of a treatment is more likely the sooner the treatment is started. In case of acute tinnitus in the inner ear or of unknown cause, a sugar solution infusion or a combination of saline with glucocorticoids is administered. This should lead to a renewed activation of the sensory cells.
Furthermore, hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be used. This eliminates an oxygen deficiency in the inner ear. If the cause of tinnitus lies in a closure of the ear canal, the reason for this can often be easily removed. In subacute or chronic tinnitus the chances of treatment are much lower. Here too the infusions already mentioned are administered. This is done in conjunction with psychotherapy. By learning relaxation techniques such as yoga, autogenic training or progressive muscle relaxation to alleviate the symptoms of tinnitus.
If all this did not improve the symptoms, a tinnitus retraining therapy according to Jastreboff is used. Here, the tinnitus is to be pushed out of consciousness.
Aftercare is about maintaining the patient's quality of life and identifying ways to deal with tinnitus. Since tinnitus becomes chronic in many cases and can not be cured, after the diagnosis and treatment has been completed it is all about the acceptance of the patient. For depressive moods, it is advisable to consult a psychotherapist.
In therapy, patients can learn to live with the sound of the ear and focus on other areas of life. Furthermore, a visit to the hearing care professional should be made. Since tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss, hearing aids can help improve hearing and, at the same time, divert attention away from tinnitus.
If there is no deafness, there is the possibility of a so-called noiser or masker. It is a hearing aid that produces an adapted noise. This is supposed to cover up the tinnitus and helps many affected people in everyday life. Some need such noise but not permanently. For many, tinnitus only disturbs in quiet situations.
Here it can be helpful to turn on a counter-noise, such as quiet relaxation music or the sound of the sea. Last but not least, sufferers should be careful to avoid stress and to better listen to their body. If the cause of the onset of tinnitus is known, it should be avoided in the future.
You can do that yourself
Tinnitus is a hearing disorder in which patience and stress reduction are very important. Patients can therefore do a lot for themselves and their health in everyday life. First of all, the idea helps that tinitus can heal spontaneously or at least improve significantly. Since tinnitus is often a warning sign of the body, to pay more attention to one's own health and above all to the needs of the psyche, relaxation is especially important. This can be done by methods such as progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobsen (PMR) or autogenic training. Yoga, with its combination of physical exercises, breathing exercises, meditation and relaxation, can also reduce stress and restore the inner balance.
Gentleness is helpful in tinnitus, but by no means confused with social withdrawal. So the request for sick leave is certainly helpful especially in a stress-intensive profession and also loud music is to be avoided, at least in the acute phase. Maintaining social contacts is important in preventing tinnitus from causing isolation. Nicotine and alcohol, including coffee, should ideally be significantly reduced. A sufficient amount of drinking is important. It is best to cover by water or herbal teas. Self-help groups specializing in tinnitus offer a helpful exchange of experience and provide valuable tips for those affected.