The Latin translation for Tinnitus is "tinkling like a bell" or ringing. It is the perception of sound in the absence of an acoustic stimulus. This condition is described as ringing, hissing, buzzing or beeping in the auditory ear canal. It may be present in either one or both ears, and symptoms may be chronic or intermittent. Volume in rare cases may be as high as 70 decibels.
Tinnitus is not a disease in itself, but a symptom that may be a marker for other conditions.
Tinnitus is experienced when damage to the fine cell hairs connected to the nerves of the inner ear are in a constant state of irritation. As a result, the stimulation of the auditory nerve is random and spontaneous, instead of occurring as a direct consequence of sound waves transmitted to the inner ear. These random electrical impulses are interpreted as noise. High-frequency ringing is experienced because hair cell damage responds in the high-frequency range.
Although this condition is common in the elderly due to age-related hearing loss, it's mostly caused by noise induced ear damage. Concussions, cranial/cervical fractures, whiplash, TMJ (temporo-mandibular joint problems), and stress related grinding of teeth may all promote Tinnitus.
Hyperthyroid, an increased heartrate and increased blood flow through the ear may also cause ringing. Tinnitus is also a symptom of Meniere's disease.
A transient Tinnitus can follow a cold or flu, but may subside months after the infection is gone. Muscle spasms, stress, tension and excessive consumption of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, aspartame or aspirin may aggravate this condition. Causes also include ear infections, wax in the ear and nasal allergies.
Vitamin & Mineral Treatment
Vitamin B12 supplementation is beneficial in the treatment of Tinnitus, because long-term noise damage depletes the B12 levels in the body, and deficiency of this vitamin is definitely associated with chronic Tinnitus.
Magnesium supplements help because low magnesium constricts the tiny arteries that lead into the inner ear. Selenium, zinc, vitamin B6 and folic acid are all very useful in the treatment and prevention of this condition.
Antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene all work to help prevent oxygen-caused damage to cell membranes of the ear.
Some herbs which are popular in the treament of Tinnitus are ginkgo, passion flower, horsetail, feverfew and Chinese angelica.
Those suffering with Tinnitus may find that soft background music or white sound may make this condition more tolerable during the night hours. Melatonin is recommended for sleep.
Acupuncture has been an effective treatment for Tinnitus. Pycnogenol (pine bark) supplements are also valuable for this condition.