Tinnitus is the medical term for ear noises or tinnitus. One in four of us has already noticed this phenomenon. Mostly and luckily only temporarily. Often it is experienced as whistling, rushing, hissing or humming. The most different sounds in the head or in the ears is one thing in common: Except for rare exceptions, it only hears the person concerned.

Tinnitus is a symptom, not a disease

Ear noises or tinnitus are a symptom, similar to the pain or fever. A tinnitus is also a warning signal that we have taken over - in the physical or mental area. Therefore, the symptom tinnitus does not have to be treated urgently, but the following applies: remedying the causes. This is all the more important as a tinnitus can in turn lead to numerous mental and physical symptoms. Examples of these symptoms are:

  • sleep problems
  • difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety and depression

Causes and risk factors

A number of triggers of tinnitus are known, some more are suspected. Nevertheless, the exact mechanism of origin is so far unclear. Possible causes include ear or respiratory tract infections, noise (bang trauma or constant noise pollution), diving accidents and organic diseases such as autoimmune diseases, tumors of the auditory nerve, Lyme disease or viral infections.

Tinnitus is often an accompanying symptom of vertigo-related Meniere's disease and sudden hearing loss. Problems with the cervical spine or in the tooth-jaw area can be triggering or reinforcing factors. Alcohol, nicotine, various medications, food and - above all - stress are also discussed as influence and risk factors.

Treatment of tinnitus

As a mechanism of tinnitus mainly circulatory disorders in the inner ear are made responsible; possibly also an unfavorable signal processing in the brain is based. Many causes can be resolved or treated well. More often, however, no direct triggers are found. In both cases, the sound of the ear can completely subside again - spontaneously or with the help of a therapy.

Sometimes it persists - the longer the tinnitus lasts, the more likely it will be. After three to twelve months, there are hardly any affected people, in which the tinnitus disappears again - that means they have to learn to live with it. According to estimates of the German tinnitus league, in Germany these are almost 3 million people, half of them with moderate to very severe complaints. About 270, 000 new cases are added each year.

Acute tinnitus

If ear noises or tinnitus appear for the first time and have not subsided after a few hours or a good night's sleep, the doctor should be consulted. If you have any other symptoms such as hearing loss or dizziness: contact the doctor immediately! The earlier a treatment starts, the better the chances are that the tinnitus disappears again!

In the first three months, the chance of recovery is greatest. The doctor will - if there are no organic causes or sufficiently treated - usually initiate infusion therapy. The aim is to improve the circulation of the inner ear. If this therapy is inconclusive, inpatient treatment may be considered.

In special clinics, other possible causes can be diagnosed and other therapeutic approaches such as HBO therapy (hyperbaric oxygen therapy), which increases the oxygen supply in the vessels of the inner ear, or physiotherapeutic procedures can be initiated promptly.

An opportunity for many tinnitus patients is also the opportunity to calm down from stress and hectic everyday life and to focus on themselves and their health. Hospitals with an interdisciplinary, holistic therapy concept can find and treat various health disorders and individual risk factors and underlying causes of tinnitus.

Important: Immediately to the doctor. The earlier a treatment starts, the better the chances are that the tinnitus disappears again!

Chronic tinnitus

If the sounds in the ear last for a few weeks, they are unlikely to be lost again. This condition is called chronic tinnitus. Nevertheless, those affected can lead largely a carefree and fulfilling life. The term "chronic tinnitus" simply means that there is an ongoing or constantly recurring ringing noise, which does not mean that the person has to suffer or is ill.

However, tinnitus can become a disease if it becomes a heavy burden in daily life and if it results in other diseases. Tinnitus then becomes the noise of the soul. Sequelae can be for example:

  • difficulty concentrating
  • falling asleep
  • Hypersensitivity to loud noises (hyperacusis)
  • depressive phases
  • Restriction of social contacts
  • temporary loss of self-confidence

Living with tinnitus

Even with chronic tinnitus, a lot can be done. It is important to counter resignation and anxiety - often due to lack of or false information - and to learn to live with tinnitus. In most cases, a tinnitus bearable: education, self-help and self-help groups let him take a back seat.

The majority of sufferers manage to accept the ear noise by deliberately paying attention to important things or other sounds. This is called compensated tinnitus. Sometimes this learning process needs a tolerable tinnitus time, and some also need therapeutic help. Nevertheless, many sufferers manage to live with their tinnitus.

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