Tinnitus: The ‘misunderstood’ ear condition explained – what are the symptoms?

Loose Women: Kirsty Gallacher details tinnitus struggle

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

Last Monday marked the beginning of National Tinnitus Awareness Week, with residents up and down the British Isles urged to learn more about what is often a dismissed condition in society. New research conducted by the British Tinnitus Association (BTA) has shed light on how much of an impact tinnitus can have on patients, particularly with regards to mental health. So, are you aware of the symptoms of tinnitus? Did you know there’s several sub-types which individuals could be diagnosed with?

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is defined as hearing a sound, such as a ringing, whooshing, humming or buzzing, where there is no external source.

In other words, nothing or no-one is making the noise which a person says they can hear. It can be continuous or come and go.

For one in 20 people with tinnitus, the condition severely affects their ability to lead a normal life.

What are the symptoms of tinnitus?

David Stockdale is the Chief Executive of the BTA and has co-authored numerous published studies on the condition.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Stockdale explained that the “sound or sounds” that people with tinnitus hear “really can be anything”.

He said: “In terms of symptoms, the common one is a ringing sound, but through our helpline and other ways we’ve heard people describe a buzzing or humming sound.

“Some people can hear music, some people describe it as a train sound or a jet engine. It really can take any form and be anything.”

The NHS listed the following as sounds which could indicate tinnitus:

  • Ringing
  • Buzzing
  • Whooshing
  • Humming
  • Hissing
  • Throbbing
  • Music or singing

Patients may be able to hear these sounds in one or both ears, or in your head.

Stroke: People with a disorder could be more likely to have a stroke [EXPLAINED]
Cancer warning: The hot drink ‘strongly’ associated with cancer risk [INSIGHT]
Parking row erupts as one family ‘takes up six spots’ [NEWS]

What are the causes of tinnitus?

The following could all result in an individual developing tinnitus:

  • Some form of hearing loss
  • Ménière’s disease
  • Conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disorders or multiple sclerosis
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Taking certain medicines – tinnitus can be a side effect of some chemotherapy medicines, antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and aspirin
  • Ear related injury
  • Exposure to loud sounds
  • Blockages to the ear / build-up of earwax

Why is tinnitus misunderstood?

Mr Stockdale explained that one of the reasons tinnitus is misunderstood is because “everyone’s experienced tinnitus at one time or another”.

He said: “If you’ve been to a loud concert you get that ringing sound afterwards that disappears the next morning.

“So, I think because people have experienced it then when someone does have it and it’s really having an impact on them it’s easy for other people to dismiss it.”

How can tinnitus be treated?

Currently, there is no cure for tinnitus, which is why groups such as the BTA are advocating for greater research to be conducted into the field.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the most effective form of treatment for tinnitus. However in reality, this gets presented as an option to a fraction of cases.

Other courses of treatment include counselling and tinnitus retraining therapy – using sound therapy to retrain your brain to tune out and be less aware of the tinnitus.

What are the different types of tinnitus?

A number of sub-types of tinnitus have been officially declared but experts have stated a high likelihood of further existing, which have yet to be discovered.

Of the sub-types we know of so far, there is:

Musical tinnitus – also called musical hallucinations or auditory imagery, this type is less common. Simple tones or layers of tones come together to recreate a melody or composition.
Pulsatile tinnitus – a rhythmic tinnitus that aligns with the beat of the heart. It usually indicates a change of blood flow to the vessels near the ear or an increase in awareness of the blood flow to the ear.
Low-frequency tinnitus – perhaps the most confusing type of tinnitus because patients aren’t sure whether the sound is being produced internally or externally.

Mr Stockdale said that while the process of diagnosing tinnitus generally is quite “straightforward”, recognising sub-types and looking at treatment and management options “does become complicated”.

He said: “At the moment a lot of the management of tinnitus, in the UK particularly, is very much one size fits all.

“So, there isn’t necessarily that distinction between different types and sub-types and the importance of those is something we still don’t really understand.”

Source: Read Full Article