Devoid of any noise, sitting in a room alone or even inside a sound-proof room do you hear a whooshing, ringing or a humming sound in the ear? Its presence can be constant or you feel that it comes and goes at intervals, in one ear or both ears or even in the middle of the head. This completely confuses you and makes you think of all the weird explanations possible. People search for some external factor for the noise’s root cause and keep on searching until they find that its deep within them. Rarely some people hear music too in their ears that.
This perception of sound when there is no external noise present is called as tinnitus which is commonly reported in people across all age groups. Its been shown that almost 30% of people experience tinnitus at some point in their life but there is another 10% of people who live it this problem constantly. For most people they find no difficulty in continuing their day-to-day chores but for some of them tinnitus affects their routine life and causes ample problems.
Tinnitus is no disease or illness but the result of a mental or physical change that needn’t be related to hearing all the time. To understand the cause for tinnitus we need to first understand the concept of hearing. There are thousands of sounds around us such as the ticking of the clock, traffic outside, chirping of birds, the constant sound of drilling in the neighborhood and so on. If our ears were to process all these sounds each of us would be only listening to them without doing anything more. Our brains play a major role in processing these sounds and filtering the wanted from the unwanted ones. While hearing, sounds travel into the ear from which the hearing nerves take them to the brain. The brain is responsible for making sense of the sound, filter out all of the unwanted background scores and help us recognize the essential ones. Trouble arises only when the amount of information sent to the brain changes due to hearing loss, ear infections, etc. The brain tries to fetch as many information from the ear as possible and this extra information is the sound manifested as tinnitus.
Our brain and not our ears are responsible for tinnitus. So, beyond hearing problems and infections even changes in our stress levels affecting the brain can result in tinnitus. Physicians have often heard people complaining of hearing noises in the ear during a cold, wax blocking or some ear infection or become aware of hearing sounds after a stressful situation which makes them notice more and more of the sound. The problem decreases/fades away once the stress levels subside or ear infection goes away but rarely, it does remain persistently even after the underlying problem is cleared. But its good to know that tinnitus can rarely be a sign of some other serious problem. Managing stress is an art and www.firsteatright.com is the best place to learn this art and practice it for a better life.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Talk to your physician once you doubt tinnitus. The ENT doctor might be of help here as he/she understands the symptoms and confirms the presence of tinnitus. Whatever happens, don’t stop leading your normal life but make a few changes here and there to make it more relaxing and simpler. Many people become frightened when they first realize that they are hearing sounds but find it helpful to know that it settles down after a while. It’s just like hearing the building work that’s happening in your neighborhood but the sound fades away once you get used to it and start focusing on the work at hand.
Living with Tinnitus
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.