A ringing sound in your ears might be common, but it should not go unattended.
Are you hearing a persistent ringing in your ear that no one else is hearing? There is a possibility that you could be suffering from Tinnitus. Some people hear a humming, roaring, hissing, or buzzing.
This phenomenon is quite common — it is reported that up to 40% of people suffer from tinnitus. However, the condition is observed more in seniors than the rest of the adult population.
What are the most common causes for tinnitus in Singapore?
So, the first thing to clarify is that tinnitus is not a disease but rather a symptom of a few medical conditions and diseases.
Here are the health complaints that may trigger tinnitus:
Hearing loss can be caused by loud explosive noises (music, worksite activities) or deterioration due to age (this may start to occur after you attain the age of 60.) Of course, tinnitus triggered by noise may improve on its own with time and healing. Age-associated hearing loss may get progressively worse and as such the tinnitus may persist and become a more frequent occurrence.
Trauma to the head or neck
Injury that affects nerves, muscles, and blood flow may cause tinnitus. In this scenario, the occurrence is referred to as somatic tinnitus.
Middle Ear Obstructions
Anything that is in your middle ear can cause tinnitus. The usual offending materials are:
- Foreign objects or dirt
- Ear wax Singapore that has become impacted
- Hair that gets into the ear canal
- Head congestion
Injuries of this nature can damage the areas of the brain that process sound.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
The temporomandibular joint is the one that connects the lower jaw to your skull. When the muscle, ligaments, tissue, or the joint itself is damaged, tinnitus can occur.
If you get a severe cold, the flu, or a sinus infection, you may experience severe nasal congestion. This can cause tinnitus.
This happens when there is a rapid change in air or water pressure. The activities that may cause tinnitus in this case are:
- Severe explosive blasts
- Scuba diving
- Flying at extreme altitudes (commercial flights don't generally trigger tinnitus.
Surprisingly, tinnitus can be triggered by medication like diuretics, antibiotics, cancer drugs, antidepressants, antimalarial drugs, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Other medical conditions that can trigger tinnitus are:
- Thyroid problems
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Acoustic neuroma (Benign tumor in the cranial nerve)
- Meniere's disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Blood flow disorders (hypertension etc)
Is there a cure for tinnitus?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for tinnitus, it can only be managed. However, studies show that tinnitus sufferers who had a B12 deficiency and were later given B12 vitamins saw an improvement in their symptoms.
So, while B12 vitamins may not be a cure, they can sometimes help tinnitus patients.
Another remedy that has shown some success is ginkgo biloba.
This herb that is used for tinnitus contains two active substances terpenoids and flavonoids. It is known to improve your blood flow.
It is often administered to protect blood vessels, heart tissue, and nerves. Since tinnitus is often a symptom of blood disorders, Ginkgo Biloba is used to treat tinnitus and hearing loss. Some patients have experienced relief because of the ginkgo biloba.
It is available in several forms (capsules, pills, tablets, tea, or liquid).
What are the most effective treatments for tinnitus Singapore?
There are several measures that you can take to manage your tinnitus. Here are some of the treatments that have been proven to bring some relief to patients.
White noise is a very useful tool against tinnitus. The primary devices used are white noise machines and masking devices. White noise can be static, sounds of the ocean, rain, or similar nature sounds. The sound of your fans, air conditioner, or humidifier can all provide white noise.
Changing your medication
If you believe that one of your medications is causing your tinnitus, you may want to talk to your doctor about switching up your prescription.
Sometimes earwax removal can significantly improve your tinnitus symptoms. We recommend microsuction which is one of the safest ways to remove excess wax from your ears.
Consider using a hearing aid if your tinnitus symptoms are related to hearing loss either due to age deterioration or loud noises.
There are two therapeutic solutions that are used to manage tinnitus symptoms. They are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT). CBT teaches coping mechanisms to make tinnitus more bearable. TRT on the other hand combines masking devices and counseling.
Can Tinnitus go away on its own?
The most honest answer is "it depends". If your tinnitus is related to a medical condition or medication that you are taking and these are resolved, you will be symptom-free. For example, If your tinnitus is related to impacted ear wax, then yes your tinnitus will go away if this blockage is removed.
How long can Tinnitus last?
Tinnitus can be continuous, or it can come and go. It can persist for months or be a condition that you may have to contend with for years.
Why should I take tinnitus seriously?
You should never ignore tinnitus because it could be a symptom of a more serious health condition requiring medical care.
What does single side tinnitus mean?
Unilateral tinnitus can be a sign of idiopathic Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss. If treated within 24 hours, patients have a chance of recovery. Single side tinnitus can also be a sign of Meniere's disease which causes hearing loss and dizziness. It may also be a result of a tumor of the hearing nerve.
When should I see my doctor about tinnitus?
You should make an appointment with you doctor if the following occurs:
- Ringing in your ear lasts more than a week.
- Dizziness and nausea accompany the tinnitus
- Discharge from the ear (it may be a sign of infection)
- Pulsatile tinnitus may be a sign of a tumor, aneurism or hypertension.
Tinnitus can be managed with your doctor's help. If you are experiencing symptoms, we encourage you to speak to your doctor .
This article was written and medically reviewed by Dr Ben, M.D on 12/11/21