Tuesday, October 03, 2006

How to live with tinnitus

It is not true that there is no treatment for tinnitus. Occasionally, the cause of tinnitus can be treated.
For instance, if the noise in the ears is caused by a middle ear infection, antibiotics may solve the problem.
Here is some simple advice which can help the patient cope with the constant noise of tinnitus:
  • Learn to relax. Relaxation techniques can be of great benefit.
  • Try to keep your mind occupied with work or hobbies.
  • Try not to think of your tinnitus.
  • Lower the intake of caffeine - so do not drink too much coffee, tea or cola.
  • Maintain a good sleeping pattern - do not sleep during the day.
  • Be aware of noise levels.

Reiki- A possible treatment for Tinnitus?

Reiki an alternative therapy is excellent for any condition, but is particularly suitable for tinnitus and it's causes. Reiki is the 'Universal Life-force Energy' and is increasingly becoming accepted as complementary to both conventional medicine and to other alternative therapies. Working with a trained healer, this energy can work directly on your mental blocks. During my own first treatment, I felt a 'chili bean' in my brain - a very small area of intense energy: my mental block literally being zapped away by the Reiki energy. The following day at work, issues that would have got me annoyed had no effect whatever! You can learn the basics of Reiki treatment in a weekend course and treat yourself.

Mechanisms of subjective tinnitus

The inner ear contains many thousand minute hairs which vibrate in response to sound waves. Receptor cells (hair cells) in turn send signals to the brain which are interpreted as sound. Although receptor cells can be regenerated from the adjacent supporting Deiters cells after injury in birds, reptiles, and amphibians, in mammals it is believed that they can be produced only during embryogenesis. Although mammalian Deiters cells reproduce and position themselves appropriately for regeneration, they have not been observed to transdifferentiate into receptor cells except in tissue culture experiments.Therefore, if these hairs become damaged, through prolonged exposure to excessive volume, for instance, then deafness to certain frequencies occurs. In tinnitus, they may falsely relay information at a certain frequency that an externally audible sound is present, when it is not.

The mechanisms of subjective tinnitus are often obscure. While it's not surprising that direct trauma to the inner ear can cause tinnitus, other apparent causes (e.g., TMJ and dental disorders) are difficult to explain. Recent research has proposed that there are two distinct categories of subjective tinnitus, otic tinnitus caused by disorders of the inner ear or the acoustic nerve, and somatic tinnitus caused by disorders outside the ear and nerve, but still within the head or neck. It is further hypothesized that somatic tinnitus may be due to "central crosstalk" within the brain, as certain head and neck nerves enter the brain near regions known to be involved in hearing.

Pulsatile Tinnitus

In this form of tinnitus the sufferer hears something resembling their heartbeat in their ear. The cause for pulsatile tinnitus usually involves vascular, tumor or muscular causes. A blood vessel may be close to the eardrum, a vascular tumor such as a "glomus" may fill the middle ear, or a vein similar to a varicose vein may make enough noise to be heard. Other pulsatile tinnitus possibilities include dehiscence of the jugular bulb, and an abberently located carotid artery. An enlarged jugular bulb on the involved side is common in persons with venous type pulsatile tinintus.
In persons with pulsatile tinnitus, additional tests may be proposed to study the blood vessels and to check the pressure inside the head. Gentle pressure on the neck can be performed to block the jugular vein but not the carotid artery. The Valsalva maneuver reduces venous return by increasing intrathoracic pressure. If there is a venous hum, this usually abates or improves markedly. If the pulsatile tinnitus pulsation is arterial, these tests have no effects. MRI/MRA or CT is often suggested in younger patients with unilateral pulsatile tinnitus. In older patients, pulsatile tinnitus is often due to atherosclerotic disease and it is less important to get an MRI/MRA. In some cases of pulsatile tinnitus a lumbar puncture may be considered if there is a possibility of benign intracranial hypertension. More invasive pulsatile tinnitus testing includes the "balloon occlusion test", where a balloon is blown up in the internal jugular vein to see if it eliminates pulsatile tinnitus.
It is strongly recommended that all individuals with pulsatile tinnitus locate an excellent physician with interest in the circulatory system and complete a thorough examination. Based on research, which included reviewing 7 otolaryngology textbooks and over 250 research studies, data appears to support the underlying cause for detecting a pulsatile tinnitus as physiologic in nature. That said, there are many, many cases of pulsatile tinnitus that defy diagnosis and identification of the causative agent.