Have you experienced hearing a ringing sound in your ear while studying but to your surprise no one or nothing in your environment is producing the sound? This experience is called “Tinnitus”. What is tinnitus and what is tinnitus infusion?
Tinnitus is a medical term that refers to the perception of sound in the ear in the absence of an external source. The sound is usually described as blowing, ringing, buzzing, farting, roaring, humming, hissing, sizzling or whistling. It can be intermittent or continuous. The noise heard can measured in terms of its intensity which can range from soft, loud or catastrophic. This hearing problem is actually common to all but in a mild form which only lasts for a minute but those who experiences it frequently and can hear it longer than a minute, there must be a problem in the ear and treatment is advised.
Statistics reveal that tinnitus affects 17% of Americans and Europeans and only 7% seek medical attention. About 3% of tinnitus sufferers have worst experience because of the affectation of tinnitus in their concentration, work and social life. This greatly affects the person’s mental state and interpersonal relationship. Prognosis of tinnitus highly depends on the type and severity of the cause. For tinnitus caused by acute acoustic trauma (like gunshots), 35% of all cases experiences relief or decrease in severity 3 months after the trauma.
The first known case of tinnitus dates back in 1600 B.C among the Egyptians. Even the known Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote about tinnitus. He wrote about the lack of knowledge and treatment regarding tinnitus and his writing just proves that he himself is a sufferer of this kind of hearing condition.
Tinnitus can be heard in one ear or both. There are sufferers who claimed that the intensity of tinnitus can be changed by tongue, shoulder, head, jaw, or eye movements. Most of tinnitus sufferers have some kind of hearing loss wherein they could not clearly hear the external sound that occur within the same range as their “phantom sounds”.
Tinnitus is not a disease but a symptom from a wide range of causes. The known causes of tinnitus are as follows:
- Exposure to abnormally loud sounds in a short period of time
- Ear infaction
- Foreign object in the ear
- Nasal allergies that prevent drainage of fluid in the nose
- Wax build up
- Withdrawal from benzodiazepine
- Increase in age
- Ototoxic medications
- Muscle spasms in the ear altered blood flow or increase blood turbulence in the ear
- Side effects of some medications such as aspirin and quinidine
- Low serotonin activity
The most common cause of tinnitus is noise-induced hearing loss. With this, the issue of using headphones as a cause of tinnitus comes in. is it true that using headphones can cause noise induced hearing loss and manifested by tinnitus? It can be seen that when using headphones, the sound enters the ear directly without giving it a chance to deflect or be absorbed elsewhere. This can directly be a reason to cause hearing loss if the sound entering the ear is beyond the modest level. With that, it can be concluded that using headphones can cause hearing loss if used abusively.
Tinnitus can be very disturbing and can negatively affect the quality of life of sufferers. With that, treatments were made in order to deal with it and to bring back the quality of life of sufferers. Some of the treatments for tinnitus are as follows:
- Clearing the ear of ear wax (if the cause is hardened ear wax)
- Gamma knife radiosurgery
- Shielding of cochlea by Teflon implant
- Botulinum implant
- Lidocaine injection
- Tricyclics in small doses such as amitryptyline and nortriptyline
- Avoidance of caffeine, salt, nicotine and alcohol
- Zinc supplementation and vitamin combinations
- Electrical stimulation (i.e. transcranial direct current stimulation and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)
One method of treating or dealing with tinnitus that is very common in china is the tinnitus infusion. Here, the patient is suggested to be admitted in the hospital for 12 days for the administration of intravenous lidocaine. The medication involves two components: chemical and herbal. Those who underwent the procedure felt some kind of relief for a while and a lesser amplitude of tinnitus after the treatment. Critics say that this treatment is not yet introduced worldwide and some physicians in other countries do not have idea about this treatment. Absence of tinnitus can be felt by some patient in the 9th day of treatment because the lidocaine is already taking its toll on the nerve endings in the ear. Lidocaine is a common anesthetic agent and it tends to numb the nerve endings which are very sensitive to external stimulation or sensation. After the lidocaine infusion, the patient can once again experience tinnitus especially when the anesthetic effect of lidocaine wears off.
Another treatment is lidocaine injection where it is directly injected on the ear with tinnitus. Here, the patient can feel relief from tinnitus for only 20 minutes thus not effective in eradicating this condition completely.
Prevention is better than cure. So it is best to avoid exposing the ear in loud noises and always check the medications you are taking for possible ototoxic effects.