There are many people who suffer horribly from tinnitus or similar diseases. If you haven’t heard of it, don’t feel bad. You’re not alone. There are many more where that came from, you’re in good company. The fact is that just because you haven’t heard of it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Indeed it does, and if you aren’t sure, just ask one of the thousands, even millions of people around the world who suffer from tinnitus on a daily basis. In fact there are almost 36 million sufferers in the USA alone!
Tinnitus can be described as a ringing in one’s ears. Some people report hearing other sounds as well, such as popping, whistling, pulsing, screeching, whooshing, buzzing and worse, and that din is going on right inside of your head. Some people even report being able to hear music! Normally, the sufferer is the only one who can hear the sounds, but in a very few people, the noises can even be heard from the outside. The problem can be in one or both ears, and can be very debilitating for some. In certain cases the tinnitus comes and goes and isn’t present all the time. In other cases the tinnitus is there constantly and never goes away. Some sufferers report that the only relief for them from the noise is sleep. Some others don’t even get relief when they sleep! For some people the problem is minor and bearable, but for others, the problem is not as bearable, and in some extreme cases people have even committed suicide because they couldn’t take the noise any more. It literally drove them to death. Now, while the cases of very severe tinnitus are rare, they do happen, and even the simple cases where the tinnitus is mild are cases where the people would do practically anything to get rid of it. The problem is that it’s sometimes not that easy to do.
Tinnitus can have many causes, including sinus problems (like sinusitis, infection, allergy, etc), ear inflammation or infection, various ear defects (like damage to the nerve endings of the ear), exposure to loud noises (this is particularly a problem of young people who go to rock concerts and can even result in permanent hearing loss, so if you know a teenager who listens to his stereo at high decibels (too loudly), stop him immediately, before it’s too late), ear wax build up, high or low blood pressure, diabetes, tension or stress (anxiety), vitamin deficiencies, jaw problems, eye or optical nerve problems, certain medications, neck and head injuries, brainstem or brain injuries, and worse of all tumors (but those are extremely rare). Elderly people tend to suffer more than others.
Once you find out the cause of your particular tinnitus, then you can work on doing something about it. While there isn’t a lot of success in treating it with medications, certain therapies have been found useful and effective for many. For example, if your problem is sinus related, then you can take antihistamines (or other anti-allergy medications). While there are other medications that have been known to be effective as well, most medications aren’t very effective and chemical medicaments are not ideal in any case. In some rare cases surgery is performed, but it isn’t always effective either.
The advice that most doctors give sufferers is to avoid loud noises, get plenty of rest, and eat good wholesome foods (since there is evidence showing that dietary changes and eating certain chemicals and additives can even cause tinnitus). Get plenty of exercise too, because an increase of beneficial activity has also been found quite effective. If you smoke or drink a lot of caffeine or diet drinks, stop!
There are some alternative choices to try when it comes to treating tinnitus. Some are reported more effective than others, but when you are suffering from an illness that is as annoying as this one is, you will generally be willing to try almost anything. Reflexology has been noted to be quite effective against many kinds of tinnitus, even the worst kinds. It appears to affect the workings of the ear and the symptoms that caused it in the first place. Along the same lines acupressure and acupuncture have been noteworthy as well.
Some people have found that taking the herb Gingko biloba is effective, and also vitamins, such as Vitamin A, the B vitamins, folic acid, or Zinc.
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While tinnitus is a real disease, and affects people physically, hypnosis can be of help in many cases. While it isn’t completely understood why this therapy works, it does, and thus cannot be overlooked when dealing with such a stubborn problem.
Yes, tinnitus is a big problem for those who suffer from it, but there are ways to help it, and hopefully more on the way!
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This article originally appeared in the Arab Times Newspaper in Kuwait in June 2006