Ringing of the Ears
In most cases when someone says that they have ringing of the ears they mean it’s a sound that they can hear internally — and not something that somebody else could hear even with a stethoscope. This ear ringing — known as tinnitus – can result in sounds other than just a ringing tone as it were. Sounds such as buzzing, a roaring, hissing and even whistling can be heard. For other sufferers, tinnitus might manifest itself as a whooshing or a humming, beating or a chirping and to some less unfortunate individuals — even a clanging.
Not only will the sound vary from person to person but so will the severity of the actual noise heard, in terms of volume and duration. Some people will hear the sounds on one side only though others may hear sounds in both ears.
There will also be changes in pitch ranging from some very low in frequences going all the way up to a high-pitched squeal. Some people may have a noise that’s just audible in the background which their only able to hear during quiet moments and that most everyday noises will mask it. However, for others the noise can be so loud that it interferes with their concentration and can even disturb their sleep.
The fact is that these constant sounds — particular the more intrusive ones — can disrupt the concentration of even the most focused individual. In cases like these, someone’s normal hearing can also be disturbed to the point where they can’t hear what goes on around them properly so interfering with just the simple pleasure of say, talking with other people, listening to music or just enjoying silence.
Of the two types of tinnitus the most common is also the less understood and that the one that is due to damage of the inner ear canal. Damage like this can come from being exposed to loud noises which has the effect of damaging the hair cells within the inner ear (which respond to the vibrations of the sound) to the point where they become bent and can sometimes break off entirely.
In cases where the hairs are broken off, the damage to the inner ear is permanent which means the tinnitus caused by this type of damage will also be permanent and something that the sufferer will have to live with – probably for the rest of their life.
Another, rarer type of tinnitus is called objective tinnitus. This can otherwise be called pulsatile tinnitus and patients describe it like a consistent rhythmic or pulsing sound within the ear. Among the causes for pulsatile tinnitus are hypertension, heart murmurs, abnormal veins or arteries within the head or neck, a glomus tumour, eustachian tube disorder or other cardiovascular conditions.
A variation of common pulsatile tinnitus is one that is known more properly as arteriosclerosis. This has a known physical cause in that the structure of the ear has either become damaged or mis-formed in some way. It is unique in the fact that this is the only form of tinnitus that can be heard by somebody else. Typically a doctor or health professional will use a stethoscope to listen to the ear or the neck just below the ear. The noise that both they and the sufferer can hear is more like a pulsing or rushing and is due to the blood flow going through the ear.
Tinnitus is actually quite a common problem with about one in five people suffering from it to some degree or another. While there is hope for a good proportion of those who suffer to be successfully treated, there are still quite a number of whom a cure can never be found. They just have to learn to live with it.