Tinnitus is when you experience ringing or other noises in one or both of your ears. The noise you hear when you have tinnitus isn’t caused by an external sound, and other people usually can’t hear it. Tinnitus is a common problem. Epidemiologically this disease is present in 38% of the population below the age of 40 years and 68% of the population above the age of 40 years. Tinnitus is not merely a life threatening disorder but costs quality of life (QoL) by impairing hearing loss of sound sleep and irritation.
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Tinnitus can cause other types of phantom noises in your ears including:
Other symptoms can be:
➢ Disturbed Sleep
➢ Hearing Loss: There are tiny, delicate hair cells in your inner ear (cochlea) that move when your ear receives sound waves. This movement triggers electrical signals along the nerve from your ear to your brain (auditory nerve). Your brain interprets these signals as sound. If the hairs inside your inner ear are bent or broken — this happens as you age or when you are regularly exposed to loud sounds — they can “leak” random electrical impulses to your brain, causing tinnitus.
➢ Ear infection or Ear Canal Blockage: Your ear canals can become blocked with a buildup of fluid (ear infection) earwax, dirt or other foreign materials. A blockage can change the pressure in your ear, causing tinnitus.
➢ Head or Neck Injuries: Head or neck trauma can affect the inner ear, hearing nerves or brain function linked to hearing. Such injuries usually cause tinnitus in only one ear.
➢ Medications: A number of medications may cause or worsen tinnitus, medications known to cause tinnitus include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and certain antibiotics, cancer drugs, water pills (diuretics), antimalarial drugs and antidepressants.
➢ Other causes – Meniere’s disease, Eustachian tube dysfunction, Ear bone changes, Muscle spasms in the inner ear, Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, Acoustic neuroma or other head and neck tumors, Blood vessel disorders.
➢ Sleep problems
➢ Trouble concentrating
➢ Memory problems
➢ Anxiety and irritability
➢ Problems with work and family life
➢ Treating these linked conditions may not affect tinnitus directly, but it can help you feel better.
➢ Subjective Tinnitus: Tinnitus that only a patient can hear sounds. The noises of tinnitus may vary in pitch from a low roar to a high squeal, and you may hear it in one or both ears. In some cases, the sound can be so loud it interferes with your ability to concentrate or hear external sound. Tinnitus may be present all the time, or it may come and go.
➢ Objective Tinnitus: In rare cases, tinnitus can occur as a rhythmic pulsing or whooshing sound, often in time with your heartbeat called pulsatile tinnitus. If you have pulsatile tinnitus, your doctor may be able to hear your tinnitus when he or she does an examination (objective tinnitus).
➢ Use hearing protection: Over time, exposure to loud sounds can damage the nerves in the ears, causing hearing loss and tinnitus. Try to limit your exposure to loud sounds. And if you cannot avoid loud sounds, use ear protection to help protect your hearing. If you use chainsaws, are a musician, work in an industry that uses loud machinery or use firearms (especially pistols or shotguns), always wear over-the-ear hearing protection.
➢ Turn down the volume: Long-term exposure to amplified music with no ear protection or listening to music at very high volume through headphones can cause hearing loss and tinnitus.
➢ Take care of your Cardiovascular Health: Regular exercise, eating right and taking other steps to keep your blood vessels healthy can help prevent tinnitus linked to obesity and blood vessel disorders.
➢ Limit alcohol, caffeine and nicotine: These substances, especially when used in excess, can affect blood flow and contribute to tinnitus ➢ Avoid walking in a windy climate, suppression of natural urges, listening to loud music, and excessive use of electronic appliances.
Examination of ear, neck, and head and audiological exams, a CT or MRI scans, is done to diagnose Tinnitus. According to Ayurveda, aggravation of vata is the leading cause of Tinnitus, which generates sound in the ear cavities. Therefore, the Tinnitus treatment in Ayurveda focuses on normalizing Vata Dosha.
Ayurveda therapies like Karna poorna (warm medicated oil ear drops), Kaval and Gandusha (oil gargling and withholding in mouth), Abhyanga (body massage), Shirodhara, Snehpaan, and Virechan along with Vata Shamaka oral medications are beneficial for Tinnitus treatment.
The Ayurveda therapies and medicines strengthen the nerves near the ear and balance the aggravated Vata dosha responsible for Tinnitus.
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