What is Tinnitus? Its causes and symptoms ?

Tinnitus are sounds that are heard in one ear (or both) or in their head without being emitted from an outside source. These symptoms are often related to acoustic trauma or ear aging.

What are tinnitus?
Tinnitus are auditory sensations (hissing, sizzling, humming) that are not caused by external noise.

There are two types:

Tinnitus “Objectives “: They are rare (5% of cases) and correspond to the sound of an organ located inside the body (e.g.: noise of blood circulating in a vessel of the neck or head). An outside person can hear it. Their cause must be sought, because treatment is often possible;
Tinnitus “subjective “: They represent 95% of cases. They are associated with an ear disease. They take the form of buzzing ear or whistling, only perceived by the patient.
In any case, the sounds heard can occur either abruptly or gradually. They are perceived in one ear or in both and sometimes in the head at the top of the skull.

In France, for example, more than 8 million people suffer from tinnitus.

Tinnitus most often related to age or trauma
The causes of tinnitus are many.

Tinnitus “subjective “, by far the most frequent, are associated with hearing impairments.

Often they follow:

  • Repeated acoustic trauma (e.g. due to listening to music at very high volume);
  • A normal decrease in hearing related to ear aging, or Presbyterians. This phenomenon is frequently associated with the presence of tinnitus in people from 50 years of age.

Tinnitus “Subjective” can also be caused by a pathology that concerns the auditory system. Like what:

  • A wax stopper or a foreign body in the ear often accompanied by a decrease in hearing acuity;
  • Otitis media: Inflammation of the ear that develops in a small bony cavity behind the eardrum, often causing pain;
  • Otosclerosis: Hereditary disease causing ear dysfunction, responsible for deafness;
  • Meniere’s disease: affection of the ear due to an increase in pressure in the labyrinth of unknown origin. It leads to buzzing, hearing loss and dizziness;
  • Impairment of the auditory nerve or internal ear (e.g. taking otoxiques medications).

Objective Tinnitus are rare. They can, for example, be due to vascular diseases such as high blood pressure, an anomaly of a neck or head artery (e.g. carotid artery) and they are then pulsatile. It is important to diagnose the disease because it can be treated.

What are the consequences of tinnitus?
The consequences of tinnitus are very variable from one person to another. This is usually a simple temporary and occasional discomfort. But perceived noises can also permanently inconvenience the patient, affecting his quality of life.

In the latter case, several effects are possible:

  • Problems of sleep and insomnia
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Anxiety.

In general, tinnitus tends to decrease over time, as affected people get used to it gradually. This is called the process of habituation.

According to the patients, this adaptation is done more or less quickly in a few months.

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