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Feb 16th 2018
Seven ways to deal with tinnitus
Prevention is best
Tinnitus is the name given to sounds that you hear but that don’t exist in the external world – and no one is quite sure why it happens. The sound may be in one or both ears, low or high pitch, loud or soft, continuous or intermittent. It’s rarely a sign of serious underlying disease, but 10% of adults and 3% of children in the UK experience tinnitus, and 1% of the population suffers significant distress as a result. Some common possible causes are age-related hearing loss, ear wax and infections. Rarer causes are Ménière’s disease or an inherited ear condition called otosclerosis. “There’s no cure for tinnitus so prevention is key,” says Nic Wray of the British Tinnitus Association (BTA).
Dial down the noise level
If you’re exposed to high levels of noise at work, your employer is legally obliged to protect you from noise damage. The near universal use of earphones is a particular concern; it’s best to keep the volume of any device to 60% of the maximum and take them out every 60 minutes. Parents and caregivers should check children’s earphone usage. Wray says children who develop tinnitus may not complain of ringing or abnormal sounds in the ears, but just seem anxious, sleep-deprived and unusually sensitive to loud noise or silence.
Check your hearing
A hearing check every two years from the age of 50 is a good idea, says Wray. Correcting hearing loss with a hearing aid may reduce the risk of tinnitus.
Is it your meds?
Most commonly prescribed drugs don’t cause long-term tinnitus, but intravenous antibiotics (gentamicin) and some chemotherapy drugs can. Aspirin, ibuprofen and the diuretic furosemide can cause temporary tinnitus, but permanent inner-ear damage and tinnitus are extremely rare at normal doses.
Sort out your ear wax</h2>
People who shove fingers, pencils or earplugs deep into their ear canal can get an impacted plug of wax that presses on the eardrum and may contribute to tinnitus. Olive oil ear-drops soften the wax and gentle suction (better than syringing) can be arranged by your GP.
Manage the stress
Long-term tinnitus is distressing and stress-inducing. The good news is that it often improves over time as the brain filters out the intrusive sound, a process known as habituation. Recent research suggests that mindfulness is a useful psychological tool to help manage it. Antidepressant drugs and ones that act on the inner ear (betahistine) are sometimes prescribed, but Wray says the BTA doesn’t recommend any drug treatment. All aspects of diagnosis and management of tinnitus are currently being reviewed by Nice and a guideline should be published in May 2020.
External sounds such as audiobooks or music on the radio can distract the brain from tinnitus and mask the symptoms. Hearing aids and tinnitus-reprogramming devices can help. There are also some excellent apps such as Tinnitus Alleviator.
THE USE OF QTIPS
Why you don't need to swab out the ears, we first need to understand why we have earwax to begin with. That gross gunk, known medically as cerumen, is actually there for protection. Its first purpose is to deter insects from making a home in this inviting cavity, and that is why it smells so bad and them, probably tastes worse.
"The purpose of earwax really is to keep your ear canal clean," says Douglas Backous,M.D. chair of the hearing committee of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNSF) and director of hearing and skull base surgery at Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle.
Not only does earwax help to keep dust and dirt away from the
eardrum, it also provides some antibacterial and lubricating perks. And
-- one of the body's many wonders! -- your ears basically clean
themselves. Once earwax dries, every motion of your jaw, whether that's
chowing down on lunch or gabbing away with friends, helps move the old
earwax out of the opening of your ear (much like as if it were riding an
The problem, then, is when we think we're smarter than the systems our bodies have had in place since the beginning of time, and go poking around in those cerumen-laden ears of ours with qtips. Sure, that cotton swab looks tiny enough, but it's actually pushing earwax deeper into the ear (after shoving it off of that escalator), where it gets stuck in the parts that don't clean themselves, he says.
Earwax trapped there also brings with it fungus, bacteria and viruses accumulated in the outer ear, potentially leading to pain and infection,
Pushing earwax deeper inside can also block the ear canal, leading to hearing loss, or, if you push it even farther, a ruptured ear drum -- which, if that episode of girls is to be believed, seems more than a little bit painful.
Every year, millions of people head to their doctors with “impacted or excessive cerumen,” a really gross-sounding way to say they've got serious earwax problems. All those checkups lead to about 8 million yearly earwax removal procedures performed by medical professionals (a.k.a. not the ear candle specialist at the salon on the corner), according to the AAO-HNSF.
Ears really only need to be cleaned -- even by a medical professional -- if they feel full or you notice changes to your hearing that could be related to waxy buildup. The official position statement about earwax removal, for both physicians and patients., advises to use qtips "around the outer ear, without entering the ear canal."
Yes, we know what you're thinking, with that grossed-out look on your face: You can't just stop cleaning your ears. Well, that's only because you've created a vicious "itch and scratch cycle" for yourself, says Backous. The more you rub the skin of your ears, the more histamine you release, which in turn makes the skin irritated and inflamed -- just like how that mosquito bite gets itchier the more you scratch it. Plus, because of the lubricating nature of earwax, Removing it makes your ears and drier, motivating you to keep sticking swabs in there in a mistaken attempt at relief.
For those of you who just can't leave your ears alone, Backous recommends a little at-home irrigation. A few drops in each ear of a mixture of one part white vinegar, one part rubbing alcohol and one part tap water at body temperature should do the trick. (Too cold or too hot and you might feel dizzy, he warns.) But the bottom line? "I can tell you," says Backous, "there is nothing good about putting anything in your ear."Home Page - medical - qtips