There are many ear, nose and throat (ENT) conditions which patients experience. With the advancement in ENT diagnostics and treatment options, today there are many ways to help you cope with such ENT symptoms, healing you from the underlying cause. One such ENT condition is tinnitus. It affects your hearing and can add strain to your personal life, bringing an overall negative impact on your mental health. If you are already suffering from tinnitus, it is a good idea to understand the causes as well as know the possible treatment options available to you.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a ringing sensation in your ears. It is noise in your ears that no one else can hear. The noise in the ears can be hissing, humming or even clicking. Many people have it on a short term basis in their ears which often settles on its own. However, some individuals have to live with it for a long time, perhaps due to an underlying condition like age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory disorder.
You don’t have to live with a troubled ear-noise anymore, especially if you are residing in Singapore. The ENT Clinic has a wealth of experienced ENT specialists who can treat your underlying tinnitus condition through evidence-based medical procedures and treatments. Visiting a specialist ENT Clinic will help you have access to a personalised treatment regime.
What are the causes behind ringing in your ears?
There can be many reasons for ringing in your ears. From facing loss of hearing to being around loud sounds, the reasons can be numerous. It is important to find out the cause of the issue so that it can be treated comprehensively. Some of the common causes include:
- Age Related Hearing Loss: Men and women over the age of 60 years old start to endure age related loss of hearing. Along with this type of hearing loss, one can experience tinnitus as well.
- Exposure to loud sounds: If you are constantly exposed to loud noise, like sounds from heavy machines, music devices and speakers, one can experience noise-related hearing loss. Short term exposure to high pitched sounds, like attending a loud concert can have temporary effects, but exposure over time to loud sounds can have a permanent effect.
- Earwax blockage: Over accumulation of earwax can cause individuals to be short of hearing, which can lead to tinnitus.
- Structural changes in ear bones: Abnormal ear bone formation and stiffening of the ear bones can affect the level of hearing, resulting in tinnitus. This can occur as a hereditary condition.
- Head and Neck Injuries: Trauma to head and neck can damage your inner ear and auditory nerves. Such injuries may result in tinnitus. Tumours in these areas too can result in tinnitus.
- Meniere’s disease: A high level of inner ear fluid pressure can be an indication of Meniere’s disease where tinnitus is present.
- Atherosclerosis: Build-up of cholesterol plaques in major blood vessels to the ear, can increase the blood pressure. The blood vessels close to the inner ear can lose elasticity and one may experience tinnitus.
Short Term Effects of Tinnitus
With ringing in your ears, tinnitus can cause patients to lose concentration and focus. People generally have trouble leading a normal life with this distraction. Trouble at work, relationships and other areas of life can add stress. Common effects include:
- Social Withdrawal: People struggle to be in relationships due to the distraction and it can affect your social life. Often individuals try to withdraw from their social group
- Trouble Sleeping: The constant ringing in your ears can keep you awake and it could be a struggle putting yourself to sleep. The high pitched noise from ears can disturb your peaceful routine of sleep.
- Difficulty Concentrating: Noise in your ears can be a constant distraction. This will hinder your concentration at work, leading to lower productivity.
- Increased sensitivity to certain noises: Medically termed as hyperacusis, this causes an increased sensitivity towards background environmental noise. Even the sound of your spouse’s voice may be uncomfortably loud, affecting one’s personal life.
Long term Effects of Tinnitus
Chronic long term exposure to tinnitus can have a detrimental effect on your social and personal life. It is important to seek help early on, from a qualified ENT physician who can help ease the condition. Social isolation can lead to bigger problems like depression and one might be drained and exhausted with the unwanted noise. A few effects include:
- Psychological distress: Emotionally, one can feel disturbed and anxiety can turn into depression in the long run. Sufferers agonise all alone with their problems, while outsiders are unaware.
- Fatigue: With a lot of energy spent on concentrating and focusing, individuals with long term tinnitus feel drained and exhausted.
- Neural Change: With the brain constantly focusing on the ringing sensation, the brain network undergoes a change in function. This can have a negative impact on individuals with a behavioural change over the long term.
It is prudent to have yourself evaluated by an otolaryngologist at the first signs of tinnitus. This will help to ward off unwanted fears of the condition and bring an understanding to the victims of the disease. Professional help can be sought by Dr Jeeve, Dr Hobbs and Dr Annabelle at the ENT Clinic, which offers personalised care in a state-of-the-art ENT clinical setting. Contact the practice on +65 6710 7522 to resolve your ear woes.