Hear, my ears will ring forever

Tinnitus : Ringing in the ear

They say tinnitus is a symptom, not a disease. What does it mean exactly?
Tinnitus only means a noise in the ear. But this can have very different causes, i.e. it can be the symptom of different diseases.

What is the trigger for tinnitus?
The disease has not yet been fully researched. What is certain is that tinnitus occurs in the vast majority of cases in connection with a hearing impairment caused, for example, by an impact trauma or a disease of the hearing organs. The second important point is stress. It is interesting that tinnitus can occur at any age. In children, the stress of learning often plays a role. In adults, it often appears either around their 30th or 50th birthday, which are both very intense phases of life. There is also a very small percentage of cases where we speak of objective tinnitus. This means that the sound can also be heard by another person. A permanent contraction of the middle ear muscles or a vascular tumor can be the cause.

How is tinnitus diagnosed?
To see if hearing has been impaired, we do various hearing tests. At what volume can the patient hear the sound? Does he hear equally well in both ears? Then we try to determine the type of noise in the ear. Tinnitus can sound very different. It can be anything from whistling, ringing, buzzing, beeping to humming. The doctor can draw conclusions about the damage in the ear from the pitch and the possibility of covering up the tinnitus with other noises. The description of the patient is essential. Together you then try to artificially reproduce the noise as well as possible. First, it's about finding out the frequency. So you play sounds in different frequencies. Then we try to define the volume.

How are patients treated for whom there is no objective cause for the noise?
If the sound has only just occurred, your doctor will likely prescribe you blood circulation-enhancing drugs, often containing cortisone. This is how you want your ear to regenerate. You should also avoid completely quiet rooms. In the silence, the tinnitus is more noticeable and many then literally increase into the noise. However, it is better for the patient to take a little distraction and relax. In 60 to 70 percent of cases, the tinnitus disappears after a while.
However, if the ringing in the ear lasts longer than three months, we speak of chronic tinnitus. At this stage, it is very unlikely to subside. There is currently no therapy that can cure chronic tinnitus.

How is tinnitus perceived?
There are basically two different groups of patients. Some hear the tinnitus, but they can cope with it. As long as the stress level does not change, no further therapy is required. The other group of patients cannot cope with the tinnitus and perceives it as a tremendous burden. These patients then often also develop psychosomatic complaints, with insomnia, depression and anxiety disorders being the most common. Behavioral therapy can help. The therapy consists of various components and is individually tailored to the patient. In addition to relaxation techniques, it also includes hearing training in which you learn to focus on certain tones and thus ignore the tinnitus. Through this treatment you can learn to deal with tinnitus better and most can actually accept it and live with it.

Some patients put a so-called noiser on the dessert to help them fall asleep better. These electrical devices generate a background noise, for example white noise, in order to cover up the tinnitus, so to speak. Does that help?
From my point of view, further medical studies are needed to substantiate the effectiveness of Noisers.

Can you prevent tinnitus?
The causes of tinnitus have not been conclusively clarified, but there are two important factors that should be considered. For one, it's important to develop good stress management. You should check this again and again, especially as you get older, because at 50 you may not be as productive as you were at 20. The other advice is to avoid an excessively noisy environment. For example, it is said that at a volume of 85 decibels it becomes critical after eight hours, but at 93 decibels after four hours. I therefore urgently advise young people who like to go to clubs and festivals to bring and wear hearing protection.

The magazine for medicine and health in Berlin:"Tagesspiegel Gesund - Berlin's best doctors for hearing and seeing".

Other issues in the issue: Truth or myth. What helps and harms the sight; See. How our eye catches the world of light; Squint.How little Ben learns to see properly in visual school. Eye laser. How flashes of light drag a new lens into the eye; Cataract. With the new lens against cloudy vision. Advice on visual aids. Hardened or thin lenses? Ortho-K or multifocal lens? What to look for when buying; Technology innovations. Retinal Chip and Intraocular Lenses - Innovations in Ophthalmic Medicine; Listen. How the ear converts air vibrations into sounds; Ear care.The Ultimate Truth About Cotton Swabs; Advice on hearing aids; Also: A comparison of clinics and medical practices. "Tagesspiegel Gesund" - Now in our shop

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