Ask the Doctor: I woke up one morning to a popping noise and the GP says it’s tinnitus. Is there really no cure?

Question: I recently got tinnitus. I woke up one morning to a banging noise in the house and was trying to locate it. I went and woke my teenage son up because I was worried and he said he couldn’t hear anything. After my ears were tested, my GP says it’s tinnitus and I basically have to live with it. I’m having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that I’m going to have to spend the next 30 years doing this – I’m a healthy 50-year-old woman. Is there really nothing you can do about it? Why is that happend?

dr Grant replies: Sometimes simple things can cause temporary tinnitus, such as B. Earwax buildup, ear infection, or even viral labyrinthitis, but it may take a few weeks or months for the tinnitus to settle down. Since you’ve already had your ears tested, these things can be ruled out.

Do you have hyperacusis? This is an intolerance or physical/emotional discomfort to common sounds in the environment that would be considered acceptable or tolerable for most people with normal hearing. It can exist independently or in comorbidity with tinnitus.

Tinnitus is the perception of sounds unrelated to an external source. It is often described by sufferers as “constant ringing, buzzing, clicking, hissing, or buzzing” in one or both ears. It is quite normal to experience brief bursts of transient tinnitus after attending a loud concert/performance.

Tinnitus is a common complaint, with an estimated 490,000 people in Ireland suffering from tinnitus severe enough to interfere with their daily activities. Tinnitus is more common in men than women, more common with age, and more common in smokers.

Tinnitus is not usually caused by a serious underlying condition, and many people learn adaptive behaviors or use white noise devices to minimize the effects of tinnitus.

One of the biggest risk factors for tinnitus is prolonged exposure to loud noise, such as B. working in a nightclub, working with industrial machinery or military service before the introduction of mandatory hearing protection. Other risk factors include hearing loss (although hearing in tinnitus is often normal) and ear injuries.

Presbycusis — the term for sensorineural hearing loss that occurs with age — is often associated with tinnitus. Hearing aids make outside sounds clearer and louder, which can help make tinnitus less noticeable.

In people who suffer from unilateral (just one-sided) tinnitus, a benign “acoustic neuroma” tumor behind the ear can sometimes be the cause. Another is Meniere’s disease, which is characterized by hearing loss, tinnitus, and dizziness. Otosclerosis, a rare condition affecting a small bone in the middle of the ear, and rare brain tumors can also be considered. Some drugs that can cause ototoxicity (damage to the ear) include chloroquine (antimalarial drug), aminoglycoside antibiotics, and some chemotherapy drugs, particularly cisplatin.

It is worth seeing an otolaryngologist, who will take a medical history, conduct a clinical examination and, under certain circumstances, will probably request further examinations including imaging. The ENT may ask about risk factors, family history, unilateral or bilateral tinnitus, continuous or intermittent tinnitus, and “pulsing” (related to your heartbeat) which could indicate a possible vascular aneurysm.

Changes in tinnitus intensity or pitch associated with changes in head or body position (lying, sitting, or standing) are also strong indicators of vascular tinnitus. Tinnitus can be assessed in terms of rhythm, pitch, sound quality, and possible aggravating or mitigating factors.

They can be considered suitable for the medical device “Lenire” for the treatment of tinnitus. It consists of a headset, a small plastic intraoral device that sits on the tip of the tongue, and a small hand controller. Ideally, it is used for 30-60 minutes a day for 6-12 weeks or longer if deemed necessary. It works by sending mild electrical pulses to the tongue combined with sounds to drive long-term changes (neuroplasticity) in the brain to treat tinnitus.

dr Jennifer Grant is a GP at Beacon HealthCheck Ask the Doctor: I woke up one morning to a popping noise and the GP says it’s tinnitus. Is there really no cure?

Fry Electronics Team

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