Tinnitus; What You Need to Know
Tinnitus is a physical condition, experienced as noises or ringing in a person’s ears or head when no such external physical noise is present. It’s important to understand, however, that tinnitus is not a disease, nor is it contagious.
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It is merely the condition of symptoms that come along with it. The sounds you experience in your ear can sound like buzzing, whistling, ringing, roaring or humming. Preventing, managing and identifying tinnitus is important in preventing it from causing further and more concerning health complications.
What Causes Tinnitus?
George Jepson, CEO of Al Ain Hospital, says that the main cause of tinnitus is the exposure to loud sounds. Young children and those in their adolescents are at major risk as they often use headphones for music or games and use them frequently. Apart from loud sounds, there are other possible causes as to how tinnitus develops, including:
- Extreme stress or trauma
- Injury to the head
- Degeneration of the hair cells in the cochlea
- Ear or head surgery
- Ear problems (otosclerosis)
- Meniere’s disease (swelling of a duct in the ear)
What does Tinnitus do to Our Health?
If tinnitus is poorly managed, or not treated in a proper or timely manner, it can develop into more serious complications such as mental health conditions. People who suffer from tinnitus and are not able to deal with it may experience the below mental health issues:
- Distress and sadness (this is very common)
- Depression and anxiety
- Uncontrollable mood swings
- Easily irritated or frustrated
- Poor concentration at a social or private space
- Sleep problems including insomnia or sleep paralysis
How to Prevent Tinnitus?
1. Use earplugs to minimize the exposure to loud sounds
Particularly in settings such as concerts, theatres or events with loudspeakers, always be wary of too much exposure. If you use existing earplugs, earphones, headphones or hearing aids, clean them consistently. It’s also wise to clean out your ears regularly with the correct tools. Getting consistent medical checkups is also advised. Bacteria in the ear can cause ear infections that can lead to tinnitus.
When using headphones or earphones, avoid setting the volume up to full. Try to put it as low as you can, while still being able to enjoy the sound. Try to keep the volume below 70%, and 80% if you must. Noise cancelling headphones have been around for a while and can also help with keeping your ears at the piece and avoid overexposure.
2. Reduce your levels of stress
Sometimes tinnitus is triggered and develops when you are feeling anxious or overly stress. Try to stay calm, and in turn, your body will be able to respond better. Low levels of stress will also help you to rest better. It will minimize the risk of tinnitus.
3. Take a rest now and then
Especially when you work in a noisy environment or one where your ears are always active. Find a quiet place that can calm you down, and also give your ears a nice break and rest.
How Can We Manage Tinnitus?
Once you have tinnitus, there isn’t much you can do about getting rid of it. The good news, however, is that it can be managed and it won’t affect your quality of life at all if you can get on top of it. The more attention you pay to the sounds you experience because of it, the more it will affect you. By making the conscious choice to let it be and to accept it, you’ll be able to live with it in ease. Some essential approaches to managing tinnitus are:
- Changing your perception of tinnitus and understanding its fine
- Keeping busy and focus on important things
- Normalize your life and don’t let it dictate what you do
- Overcome your fear of tinnitus by accepting that it can’t change and that’s not a bad thing
- Improve your health and overall lifestyle through diet and exercise. Having a healthy body means that you will mentally respond better and not let it affect your mood.
When Should We Seek Medical Attention?
If you suspect that you may have tinnitus in your health, seek medical attention immediately. If you know you have tinnitus but are struggling to deal or cope with it, seek medical attention immediately.
If tinnitus is causing further problems in your health such as insomnia, sleep paralysis, anxiety issues, depression, paranoia or any other more serious concerns, seek medical attention immediately. Also, know that ear doctors and therapists may also assist you. Whether you know you have it or not, it’s always good to speak with an expert to be safe.
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