Health and Fitness

How many types of tinnitus and how to treat them

Tinnitus is characterized by a ringing, buzzing, whooshing, whistling sound in the ears. The frequency & intensity of the sounds can vary from time to time, so can the accompanying symptoms that patients experience. Patients also experience tinnitus in different ways: for some people it can go away on its own after some time, or by moving the head in different directions. While for some others, tinnitus can be debilitating & cause major problems with their everyday lives.

There also seems to be no permanent cure for tinnitus as an individual condition yet. Tinnitus treatment usually depends on tinnitus causes, & treating the underlying conditions that are causing tinnitus in the first place. Tinnitus is experienced differently by every individual, a medical statement that is rooted in the fact that there are four different types of tinnitus.

These types of tinnitus are known as subjective, objective, neurological, & somatic. Below, we have explained these various types of tinnitus in detail for a better understanding.

Subjective Tinnitus:

Subjective Tinnitus is the most common type of tinnitus. This type of tinnitus takes its name from the subjective nature of the noise in the ears, which can be heard only by the patient. Subjective Tinnitus cause is usually an increased exposure to excessive noise. This type of tinnitus is known to appear & disappear suddenly, with an average lasting duration of 3-12 months. However, in certain severe cases, a patient might continue to experience subjective tinnitus for quite a big length of time.

Neurological Tinnitus:

Neurological tinnitus is usually caused by a disorder, like Meniere’s Disease, that affects the auditory functions of the brain.

Somatic Tinnitus:

This type of tinnitus is related to the sensory system. Somatic Tinnitus is caused by, &/or worsened/mediated by, & is overall related to, the body’s sensory system.

Objective Tinnitus:

Objective Tinnitus is a rare type of tinnitus that is caused by involuntary muscle contractions &/or any vascular deformities. This type of tinnitus usually goes away once the underlying tinnitus cause is adequately treated. This type of tinnitus can also be heard by people other than the patient themselves, & the only type that has a permanent, long-lasting cure

Other subtypes of tinnitus:

Besides the above-mentioned common types of tinnitus, there are also other subtypes of tinnitus. These include:

Musical Tinnitus:

This type of tinnitus is also known as musical hallucinations or auditory imagery, & is relatively less common. In this type of tinnitus, certain simple tones &/or layers of tones line up together to create an illusion of a certain musical melody or a composition. This causes the patients to hear music or melody even when there isn’t any. Musical Tinnitus usually occurs in people who have been experiencing tinnitus & hearing loss for quite some time. Although people with normal hearing &/or increased sensitivity to sound can also sometimes experience musical tinnitus or musical hallucinations.

Pulsatile Tinnitus:

Pulsatile tinnitus is a type of tinnitus that rhythmically aligns itself to the patient’s heartbeat. It is usually caused by a change in the blood flow to the vessels near the ear or an increase in the awareness/feeling/pulsation of the blood flow occurring near the ear.

Low-frequency tinnitus:

This is perhaps the most confusing type of tinnitus as patients aren’t sure if the sound they are hearing is being produced internally or externally.
In this type of tinnitus, the tones of the sound heard by the patient usually correspond to the two lowest octaves on a piano, & are best described as a humming, murmuring, rumbling, or deep droning sound. This type of tinnitus also seems to affect individuals quite strongly & intensely.

Tinnitus Causes:

In most cases, tinnitus causes are uncertain & undetermined. If there are no signs of any damage to your auditory system, your doctor will likely look into some commonly known possible causes for your condition. These Tinnitus causes include:

  • Jaw Joint dysfunction, which can cause certain involuntary muscle movements, leading to the production of low-intensity internal sounds that the patient hears as tinnitus sounds,
  • Chronic neck muscle strain,
  • Excessive noise exposure, which can irreparably damage the auditory system, leading to the production of involuntary sounds,
  • Certain medications can cause tinnitus & the weakening of the auditory system as a side effect. Also, in some cases, chemotherapy may cause tinnitus due to the radiation emitted during the procedure.
  • Wax buildup inside the ears can block normal auditory channels & impede their functioning, causing unwanted sounds & sometimes, accumulation of fluid inside the ear. This can cause tinnitus as a result of Meniere’s Disease, or any other infection that is caused due to the excessive fluid buildup.
  • Cardiovascular diseases, which can cause tinnitus due to arrhythmia in the heartbeat & changes in the pressure of the blood flow towards the ear canals & the auditory system
  • A tumor(usually benign) that creates a strain on the arteries in the area of the neck & the head

Tinnitus Treatment:

As mentioned above, Tinnitus has no permanent treatment solution that takes into account all individual cases. There isn’t any FDA-approved drug treatment or a single medical approach that works for every tinnitus cause & patient, including herbal supplements & medicines.

The best tinnitus treatment strategies are behavioral therapy & sound-generating machines that help drown or overpower the sound generated by tinnitus. Distraction therapy, as a result of the above observation, also seems to work best for tinnitus patients & gives great results.

In cases where the tinnitus is a result of an underlying disorder like Meniere’s Disease, medicines to that effect can significantly help in tinnitus treatment.

In some cases, where tinnitus is also accompanied by vertigo symptoms, vertigo medicines & other vertigo treatment methods might also prove to be very helpful in tinnitus treatment.

 Some of the most effective tinnitus treatment strategies used by doctors & specialists include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT) helps patients deal better with the ‘phantom sounds’ by either distracting themselves with some other activity or by developing some coping strategies to naturally drown out the effects of the sound. Of course, this only works if the sound is within a certain intensity & frequency range, not for sounds deemed too loud medically.
  • Tinnitus retraining therapy, which trains patients to retrain or rewire their brains to ignore or undermine the tinnitus sounds & help them live a better quality of life.
  • Masking, which refers to utilizing external sounds or sound generating devices, also known as white noise devices, to help drown out the tinnitus sounds experienced by the patients. This is especially helpful to patients whose tinnitus is severe & interrupts their everyday functioning significantly.
  • Biofeedback, which helps patients control their regular bodily functions & impulses via meditation, stress-reducing activities, & a sort of control therapy. Biofeedback helps patients gain greater control over their own bodily functions & lets them enjoy a better quality of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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