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tinnitus
 

# What is tinnitus?
# What causes tinnitus?
# What makes tinnitus worse?

Courtesy of www.ata.org


WHAT IS TINNITUS?

Tinnitus is the medical term for the perception of sound in one or both ears or in the head when no external sound is present. It is often referred to as "ringing in the ears," although some people hear hissing, roaring, whistling, chirping or clicking. Tinnitus can be intermittent or constant-with single or multiple tones-and its perceived volume can range from subtle to shattering.

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WHAT CAUSES TINNITUS?

We have made tremendous advances through research, based on what is known about the auditory (hearing) system - sound is detected by the ear and processed by the brain. On the other hand, the exact physiological cause or causes of tinnitus are not known. There are, however, several likely sources, all of which are known to trigger or worsen tinnitus.
* Noise exposure - Exposure to loud noises can damage and even destroy hair cells, called cilia, in the inner ear. Once damaged, these hair cells cannot be renewed or replaced.
* Head and neck trauma - Physical trauma to the head and neck can induce tinnitus. Other symptoms include headaches, vertigo, and memory loss.
* Certain disorders, such as hypo- or hyperthyroidism, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, and thoracic outlet syndrome, can have tinnitus as a symptom. When tinnitus is a symptom of another disorder, treating the disorder can help alleviate the tinnitus.
* Certain types of tumors
* Wax build-up
* Jaw misalignment
* Cardiovascular disease
* Ototoxicity - Some medications are ototoxic, that is, the medications are toxic to the ear. Other medications will produce tinnitus as a side effect without damaging the inner ear. Effects, which can depend on the dosage of the medication, can be temporary or permanent. Before taking any medication, make sure that your prescribing physician is aware of your tinnitus, and discuss alternative medications that may be available.

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WHAT MAKES TINNITUS WORSE?

* Loud noise. Avoid loud sounds at all costs! Use power tools, guns, motorcycles and noisy vacuum cleaners only with hearing protection.

* Excessive use of alcohol or so-called recreational drugs can exacerbate tinnitus in some individuals.
* Caffeine, in coffee, tea, chocolate, and cola drinks, can for some people increase tinnitus.

* The vascular effects of nicotine, found in tobacco, are associated with an increase in tinnitus.

* Aspirin, quinine, some antibiotics, and hundreds of other drugs can cause tinnitus and ake existing tinnitus worse. If you are prescribed medication, tell your physician your tinnitus and discuss drug and dosage options.

*Stress. Many people notice a reduction in the volume of their tinnitus when they are able to control their stress level.

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