Tinnitus is the feeling of ringing in the one or both ears. There is a continuous or an intermittent buzzing, whistling, chirping, or hissing sound.
The disturbance is felt more when the patient is trying to sleep or work in a quiet environment where background noise is low. If the condition is left unattended for a prolonged period, it can also lead to psychological problems.
Our inner ear helps in the maintenance of balance the body, acts as receptors of sounds and transmits signals to the brain. Disturbance in the conduction of sound from the inner ear or processing of the sound signal by the central nervous system may lead to tinnitus.
- Ear infection
- Sinus infection
- Blockage in the ears caused by wax
- Meniere’s disease
- Old age
- Continuous exposure to loud sounds
- Sudden exposure to loud sound
- Head or neck injury
- A tumour affecting VIII cranial nerve
- Side-effects of some medications such as aspirin, quinine and chloroquine, some sedatives, antidepressants, painkillers, antibiotics, diuretics
- Damage to the jaws causing the temporomandibular joint disorder
- Otosclerosis – a condition where the small bones in the inner ear become immobile
- Some medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, high BP, anaemia, cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune disorders and circulatory disorders
- Extreme stress and fatigue
- Excessive intake of alcohol or caffeinated beverages, cigarette smoking may worsen the condition of a tinnitus patient
- Migraine headaches