7530 S. Woodward Ave Suite D
Woodridge, IL 60517
Tinnitus is an abnormal perception of a sound, which is reported by patients as being unrelated to an external source of stimulation. Tinnitus is a symptom, much like a headache, pain, temperature, hearing loss, or vertigo. With tinnitus, the reported distress is usually subjective and difficult to record and appreciate by others. Tinnitus will not cause you to go deaf, and statistically, 50 percent of patients may express that their tinnitus decreases or is hardly perceptible as time passes.
The quality of the tinnitus refers to the description by the patient of the tinnitus. It may be a ringing, buzzing, cricket, ocean, or other type of sound. Also, the quality may be multiple sounds or a singular sound. Tinnitus is a very common disorder, and may be:
Intermittent, constant, or fluctuating
Types of Tinnitus
Tinnitus is also classified further into subjective or objective types.
Tinnitus is a Symptom
Tinnitus is a symptom of neurologic disease. It may occur with a hearing loss, vertigo, or pressure symptoms in the ear or it may occur alone. This condition must always be thought of as a symptom and not a disease, just as pain in the arm or leg is a symptom and not a disease.
Because the function of the auditory (hearing) nerve is to carry sound, when it is irritated from any cause, it produces head noise. This phenomenon is similar to the sensation nerves elsewhere. If one pinches the skin, it hurts because the nerves stimulated carry pain sensation.
Tinnitus may be produced in one or more locations, called the site of lesion. The cause of tinnitus may be one or many.
Tinnitus may originate from various lesions and from different sites. The auditory system involves highly complicated inner ear structures, many nerve pathways, and a great amount of nuclei that form a complex neural network. Pinpointing the cause of tinnitus to a certain structure becomes questionable.
This is demonstrated by patients who have had unyielding tinnitus after having surgery on their ear or incurring severe diseases of the ear. In an attempt to relieve the tinnitus, cutting the auditory nerve is often done. When the tinnitus is persistent, this indicates that the site of lesion causing the tinnitus likely shifted into the central nervous system.
There are many other causes related to the ear which would result in tinnitus. These include:
A complete cochleovestibular evaluation is necessary in all patients with severe, disabling tinnitus. The test battery used is an attempt to establish the site of lesion and to rule out any significant pathology which may require further treatment.
One diagnostic test for tinnitus is frequency testing. Since tinnitus is often high pitched, frequency judgments in this region normally are poor. Frequency discrimination up to approximately 16,000 Hz (in the upper limit of hearing) is far less exacting than the middle-frequency region. In addition, patients suffering from high-pitched tinnitus often have a high-frequency hearing loss, which may impair frequency discrimination. Therefore, test-retest reliability in matching the frequencies of audiometer tones to the pitch of tinnitus may be poor.
The audiologist will attempt to do pitch-matching and loudness-matching when other forms of diagnostic tests fail. In addition, an attempt may be made to determine the maskability of the tinnitus, which is unrelated to its loudness. Also, a determination of residual inhibition can be made when tinnitus is temporarily reduced after a masking sound has been turned off, and the reduction is termed “residual inhibition.”
Treatment of Tinnitus
Generally, most patients will not need any medical treatment for their tinnitus. For patients who are greatly bothered by tinnitus, they may use masking techniques and other treatments, such as:
Cerumen, also known as earwax, is naturally produced by the glands in the ears to lubricate the ear canals and keep dust and debris from getting too far down in the ear canal.
Cerumen typically clears itself from the ears, but in some instances can accumulate and cause a blockage.
SYMPTOMS OF A CERUMEN BLOCKAGE INCLUDE:
HOW NOT TO REMOVE EARWAX BUILDUP
People commonly use cotton swabs to try and remove earwax or dislodge a blockage. However, this can sometimes cause more problems as cotton swabs may push the blockage further down into the ear canal, risking even more damage to the ear.
Cotton swabs themselves can also be accidentally inserted too far into the ear canal and can potentially damage your ear, including the possibility of rupturing your eardrum.
Physicians generally agree that cotton swabs are a bad idea for removing earwax and should only be used on the outer portions of your ear. You should never insert cotton swabs or any small object into your ear canal.
AT-HOME EARWAX REMOVAL
In some instances, your physican may send patients home with an at-home ear wax removal kit. Earwax removal kits can also be purchased over the counter in most drug stores.
These kits generally consist of a liquid that softens earwax and a small rubber bulb syringe. You will be given directions on how much and how often to apply the liquid to your ear canals, allowing it to sit for awhile in your ears to soften up the ear wax. Bubbling and fizzing sensations in your ears is normal with use. You will then use the bulb syringe to gently flush your ears with warm water to remove the ear wax. It may take several days to completely clear earwax blockages from your ear. There are contraindications to using these kits in some people and with some ear conditions. Before attempting at-home earwax removal, it is advised to speak with your doctor to be sure it is safe for you.
REMOVAL AT YOUR DOCTOR'S OFFICE
If the earwax blockage is more significant, it may need to be removed in your doctor's office. Doctors typically use one of two methods to remove earwax: irrigation or curettage.
Irrigation is the most common method your doctor will use to remove blockages. Unlike at-home ear wax removal kids, your doctor may use stronger ear wax removal medications in conjunction with irrigation. Carbamide peroxide is typically the main ingredient in these medications.
The less common method is curettage, which involves the use of a curette. A curette is a long, curved tool that is used along with suction to gently scrape cerumen the ear canal, removing the blockage.
If you experience pain or discomfort as a result of earwax, or suspect you have a blockage, it's important that you see your doctor as soon as possible to address the issue. Removing earwax doesn't have to be painful and should bring you relief.
Hearing, Balance & Speech Institute 7530 S Woodward Av, Suite#D, Woodridge, IL 60517 Ph# 630-985-4884 Fax# 630-470-9861