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Vertigo and Tinnutus

 

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a physical condition, experienced as noises or ringing in the ears or head when no such external physical noise is present. Tinnitus is usually caused by a fault in the hearing system; it is a symptom, not a disease in itself.

The word "tinnitus" means "tinkling or ringing like a bell". Latin origin; usually pronounced tinn-itus, the "i" as in "sit".

 

Causes of Tinnitus:

  • Noise induced hearing loss: a) work induced
    b) social
  • Trauma
  • Medications
  • Ear Operations
  • Infections
  • Viral labyrinthitis
  • Meniere’s Disease
  • Genetic factors
  • Acoustic Neuroma
  • Many more

The most common cause of tinnitus is damage to the inner ear hearing sounds, such as noise induced hearing loss.

 

Factors That Make Tinnitus Worse:

  • Middle ear problems
  • Outer ear problems, eg. Infections, wax, middle ear effusions, eustachian tube dysfunction, temporo-mandibular joint dysfunction, stress and anxiety.

Tinnitus is a physical condition, experienced as noises or ringing in the ears or head when no such external physical noise is present. Tinnitus is usually caused by a fault in the hearing system; it is a symptom, not a disease in itself. 

Investigations:

Mr. Watson will generally organize some investigations which may include a hearing test, an ABR, ECoG or MRI.

A hearing test is most commonly done to ensure the cochlear is not damaged with the resulting hearing loss.

An ABR (Brain Response Audiometry) is a test where electrodes are stuck to the scalp and the conduction pathway of the nerve from the ear to the brain is measured. It is a passive non-invasive test. Mr. Watson gives the analogy to a train passing between a number of stations. The train should arrive at each station on time and in a certain time period. A delay in the train arriving at a station may indicate a problem. In the same way this test measures the time taken for the nerve to conduct between a number of relay stations at various levels up to the brain.

An ECoG (Electro-cochleography) is often performed if the patient has a history of dizziness or vertigo. This test measures indirectly the pressure of fluid inside the semi-circular canals within the inner ear. Mr. Watson gives the analogy of the semi-circular canals being like a small garden hose. It has fluid inside the hose under a specific pressure. If the pressure rises too high dizziness can occur.

MRI Scan (Magnetic Resonant Imaging) is a test done by the Radiology Department which gives excellent photographs of the brain. There is no radiation associated with this procedure, however being a magnetic test the patient needs to lie within a large donut shaped machine which makes a very loud noise. As the test is based on magnetism it cannot be performed on some patients with metal in their body such as pacemakers. Any such device or metal in the body needs to be reported prior to this test being performed.

 

Treatment of Tinnitus:

The most important treatment of tinnitus is explanation and reassurance. This is done often with the aid of the investigations outlined above.

Tinnitus can be reduced by using masking. This is a technique where another noise is presented to the ear and the brain therefore concentrates on this noise rather than producing its own noise. For example a radio or noise near the affected ear often reduces the noise heard inside the head.

There is no specific medication, lotion or potion which will take noise away. Most people learn to adapt to the noise or reduce its intensity.

 

Click here to download a PDF Fact Sheet  

TINNITUS

A Guide for Mr Watson’s Patients
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