What is Tinnitus?
It is so important to be informed. If you don´t know what you have or what is causing your condition it is even worse to have it. Nobody likes to live in the unknown. So don´t live anylong in the darkness, and let the people around you know. Know why you are suffering or why you are feeling the way you do is important for your healing journey. It helps to know what it is, that it is not mysterious…it has a cause and it is a reaction from your body.
Let´s start why the name of ear ringing is tinnitus. The word comes from the Latin word “tinnire” which means ringing. It´s as easy as that….
It refers to a sound that doesn´t have an outside source as it starts out as a disorder of the vestibulocochlear organ and gets kept up by a processing disorder in the auditory center in the brain.
There are many different ways that inner sound can be noticed, it can be a ringing, whistling, humming, knocking, hissing etc. There are actually sites to find your frequency or to show others what you are going through. Like this one: http://www.szynalski.com/tone-generator/
Also the volume of the tinnitus varies from person to person. Most people do have it constantly, but some do hear it on a on and off basis. Many people with tinnitus also suffer from hearing loss or from the loss of hearing the frequency of their tinnitus. Other side effects is hyperacusis, which is basically a collapsed tolerance to normal environmental sound.
Newbies to tinnitus principally have an acute tinnitus, which means the condition is younger. There is different information out there when it is older than 3 or 6 months it is chronic tinnitus. During the acute state sudden healing is still probable, once it becomes chronic the probability of a sudden healing decreases.
Tinnitus is very individual, but many people can compensate and habituate. Others don´t manage to compensate. This decompensated tinnitus often leads to a negative vicious cycle, which you can read more about here: https://thetinnituslife.com/2017/07/24/tinnitus-spiral/
Causes of Tinnitus
- Noise damage
Many people tell me that their tinnitus was noise induced.
There are three different ways that can happen. One is an acoustic trauma, like a big boom next to you which happens to many war veterans for example.
The other one is constant noise pollution, like listening to loud music constantly or having a job with constant noise.
2. Acute hearing loss
Usually that means when the hearing ability decreases suddenly on one ear.
3. Méniére´s disease
That is a condition of the inner ear that comes with vértigo, tinnitus, hearing loss and a pressure on the inner ear.
4. Acoustic neuroma
It is a benign primary intracranial tumor of the myelin-forming cells of the vestibulocochlear nerve. That type of schwannoma is a tumor that arises from the Schwann cells responsible for the myelin sheath.
5. Diseases of the middle and inner ear
6. Malfunction of the cervical spine or jaw joint
7. Circulatory disturbances
8. hearing impairment
9. many other…like metabolic disease, kidney diseases, hormonal imbalances, chronic inner ear infections, intoxication, traumatic brain injury, narcosis . . . etc.
It is hard to put the finger on the exact cause if it is not a tumor or noise induced.
What I found interesting to read was that stress isn´t a scientifically proved cause for tinnitus, it can be stronger through stress as stress brings usually tension which then worsens tinnitus.
Here you can also see how tinnitus is categorized in different stages:https://thetinnituslife.com/2017/07/29/the-stages-of-tinnitus/
To that I have to add that grade I and II are basically compensated, meaning the people having it habituated and grade III and IV means it is decompensated, meaning the people having it haven´t habituated. That means in that stage the ear ringing brings a lot of secondary symptoms.
You probably have also heard the expression objective and subjective tinnitus, if you are reading this you most likely have subjective tinnitus. That´s the one only you can hear, the subjective one also a doctor can hear with a stethoscope but that one usually can be cured quickly.
But where does the sound come from?
Hair cells get from whatever reason listed above damaged and that means the brain receives a wrong information. The hair cells usually move through the pressure waves produced by the vibrations in the outer ear when catching a sound. So back to the hair cells, their movement produces nerve impulse, which then the brain basically reads and turns into sound.
If hair cells are damaged they either send wrong signals to the brain or none at all which then the brain interprets as some kind of error and reacts to it as well. So either way the brain thinks there is something wrong and that is where the sound is coming from, when the brain thinks there is something wrong we perceive it as “danger”, because we no sound source can be found. It seems like in our unconscious mind it is perceived as a warning signal and usually we have to run, hide or at least react in some way to relieve the danger.
But we can´t . . . . as the hair cells are just damaged. So we are just in panic . . . and that is why we suffer and feel so helpless.
Where did I find all this useful information?