Occasionally, my friend, Emma, experiences a high pitched ringing sound in her ears. Sometimes, it lasts for few minutes, while other times it lasts up to few hours. This phenomenon is not disturbing her life, practically.
So she was confused whether to consult a doctor or not. Before few days, we met at a party, where she disclosed this weird situation of hers amongst few friends. Immediately, another friend, Karen, explained to everyone that there is a belief associated with the ringing of the ears. She added that if the left ears ring, then someone is saying good things about you.
On the other hand, if the right ear is ringing, someone is saying bad things about you. So you have to keep saying name of the people you know. The name that popped up before your ringing stops will be the person who must be talking about you. Most of the people found this idea entertaining.
But for those few, including me, who need a scientific explanation for things, this concept did not mean much. I started thinking, “What does it mean when your ears ring?” As expected, there is a biological process associated with the ringing of the ears. In this article, I have tried to compile some facts and explain to you the real conditions.
What Is Ringing Of The Ears Actually?
When a person hears ringing, hissing, roaring, tinkling or buzzing sound in the ears, occasionally, which does not go away or get better, it is called TINNITUS. This condition is more common in people above the age of 40 years, especially among males.
There are different patterns of occurrence of these sounds. They may keep pace with heartbeats or breathing, or they may come and go, or may be constant. No matter what type of ringing a person may hear, it is crucial to get cured of this condition.
What Are The Types Of Tinnitus?
There are 2 types of tinnitus – Pulsatile tinnitus and Non-Pulsatile tinnitus.
In this type, you may hear sounds like your own pulse or like contractions happening in your muscles. These sounds are actually created by problems in the flow of blood in face or neck regions, ear canal changes, or movement of muscles near the ears.
In this type, you may feel that the ringing sound is originating from your head. The sounds may be heard in a single ear or both the ears. This type of tinnitus is caused by some irregularities in the nerves associated with hearing.
Generally, Tinnitus is accompanied by hearing loss.
What Are The Causes Of Ringing Ears Or Tinnitus?
The symptom of almost all the ear disorders or tinnitus is hearing loss. The main causes are aging, which is called presbycusis and being surrounded by loud noises which is called acoustic trauma. Other causes of tinnitus are as follows:
- Earwax building up in the ears
- Rupture of the eardrum
- Eat infections
- Consumption of alcohol or caffeinated drinks in excess amounts
- Injuries to the ear or head or whiplash
- Severe weight loss due to crash dieting or malnutrition
- Temporomandibular problems which are actually dental problems, but also affect the ears
- A sudden change in the environmental pressure referred to as barotraumas
- After radiation therapy or surgery of head or neck, the inner ear gets injured
- Repeated exercises which apply too much of stress on the neck
- Neurological disorders such as migraine headache or multiple sclerosis
- High blood pressure and other blood flow abnormalities like arteriovenous malformation and carotid atherosclerosis
Other diseases that can cause tinnitus are as follows:
- Acoustic neuroma
- Meniere’s disease
Moreover, repeated usage of some medicines can also cause tinnitus. They are:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and Aspirin like naproxen and ibuprofen
- Drugs to cure malaria like quinine and chloroquine
- Antibiotics like erythromycin, doxycycline, tetracycline etc.
- Anti-cancer drugs like vincristine and cisplatin
- Anti-convulsants like valproic acid and carbamazepine
- Trycyclic anti-depressants like clomipramine, amitriptyline and imipramine
- Benzodiazepines like lorazepam, diazepam, alprazolam and clonazepam
- Loop diuretics like torsemide, bumetanide and furosemide.
What Are The Remedies For Ringing Ears Or Tinnitus?
If your ears are ringing, you should visit your a licensed doctor, as soon as possible. The doctor will conduct some physical examinations and ask about your medical history, all past and current medications, any injuries and exposure to noise at present or in past times.
If the ears are ringing due to medicines, the doctor may advise you some alternate medicines or remedies.
If it is caused by some musculoskeletal factors like any injury, tension in the neck muscles, tooth grinding, jaw clenching etc. then you may be sent for some massage therapy for a particular period.
If the above factors are not determined as causes by your doctor, you may need to visit an audiologist and otolaryngologist. Tests like CT scan or MRI may be done to determine any abnormality in the blood vessels or the auditory system.
If you are constantly and frequently exposed to loud noises, it is highly recommended to use protecting devices like custom-fitted devices or earplugs.
In order that the tinnitus condition does not worsen you should take care of your diet, stress levels, physical activities and sleep timings. In a case of any abnormality in health, you may take help of psychotherapy or medications.
Till date, no drug treatment is approved by FDA for curing tinnitus. But the ringing in the ears can be controlled by few tested therapies like – Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Stress management, Biofeedback, Masking and Transcutaneous electrical stimulation.
These were all the basic information about – What does it mean when your ears ring. But do not under-estimate the need of consulting a doctor if you are going through ringing in ears. As the old saying goes, “A stitch in time saves nine”, you may be able to save your hearing ability from any further damage, by taking a treatment in time. Also, note that all insurance providers do not cover a tinnitus. So check your insurance plan carefully.
Hope, this article will be useful to you. In a case of any query or suggestion, feel free to drop it in the comment box given below.