Dr. Michael Miles discusses tinnitus

By Dr. Michael Miles Special to the Crier

Are those sleigh bells ringing in your ears or could it be tinnitus? Tinnitus is a medical diagnosis given to those unfortunate individuals that suffer constant ringing in the ears with no apparent origin of the sound.

It is estimated that 30 percent of the population experiences some form of tinnitus and that 25 percent of these are bothered enough to seek professional help.

Tinnitus is a condition (a state of being) not a disease. There are many reasons that can cause this phenomenon. A major distinction can be made between objective and subjective causes.

The objective causes have some sort of physical source of sound that can be perceived by another person. This can occur when there are muscle spasms inside the ear precipitating sound or louder than normal heart pulsations near the ear.

Subjective causes of tinnitus are a bit more far-reaching. Sometimes the sensory hairs inside the ear that transform sound vibrations into perceivable sound in the brain can be misfiring. This can occur after trauma from very loud noises such as high volume music, gunfire, explosions, industrial sounds, etcetera.

Other reasons for subjective ringing or hissing or other sounds include; repercussions from medications, repercussions from degenerative nerve diseases, repercussions from infections, foreign objects in the ear, wax buildup and nasal allergies that effect fluid drainage.

Tinnitus may be associated with hearing loss, though not always. It has proven difficult to remedy. Some approaches try to eliminate the perception of sound, while others simply try to mask what is thought of as “phantom” noise with other noise.

Many pharmaceutical drugs include tinnitus in their long list of possible side effects. It seems reasonable to identify and reduce or eliminate all possible drug influences…including caffeine and nicotine.

It would, of course, be recommended to avoid loud noises to see if normal hearing can be restored through simple healing. Evidently, earpieces that seal off the opening to the ear and channel sound (music, etc.) directly into the ear without avenues of escape are particularly problematic.

Another form of treatment to consider is cranial sacral adjustments. This is a method of subtly maneuvering the plates of the skull. Re-aligning these plates can possibly correct objective causes of tinnitus. Some massage therapists are skilled in this form of treatment.

Stress of all kinds (emotional and physical) is always a consideration in conditions like this. In this case, it can increase blood pressure and contribute to objective causes of tinnitus.

It is also important to remember that there are many sources of “white noise” in our world today. These sounds can easily be misinterpreted as tinnitus. Consider the constant hum of tires on the road, the hum of high power lines and other electrical devices (especially hearing aids).

Tinnitus is an irritation that is often simply tolerated, but at times can be resolved with proper evaluation.

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