Tinnitus (Subjective)

Tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in your ear that no one else nearby can hear. It is a symptom of a disorder or injury to the ear. If a doctor can detect a sound during examination, it would indicate a rare condition called objective tinnitus.

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Subjective tinnitus is not a rare condition and it is not necessarily a predictor of hearing loss.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

Symptoms may be intermittent or constant, may affect one or both ears and may be present in how or high pitches.

  • A variety of possible sounds like hissing, clicking, ringing, buzzing
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Memory problems
  • Sleep problems

SOME POSSIBLE CAUSES

  • Abnormal bone growth in your ear (possibly genetic)
  • Abnormal inner ear fluid pressure
  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Allergies that affect the ear
  • Blood vessel disorder
  • Complications from medications
  • Damage from loud noises
  • Earwax blockage
  • Head injuries
  • Hypertension
  • Neck injuries
  • TMJ disorder
  • Tumor

RISK FACTORS

  • Age
  • Being male
  • Cardiovascular disorders
  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Smoking

PREVALENCE

It is estimated that ten to 15% of adults suffer from tinnitus.

ALLOPATHIC TREATMENT

If there is an identifiable cause, a doctor would treat that. Some of the treatments would be obvious, like changing medications or removing earwax. If your physician cannot determine the cause, medications may lessen the symptoms but of course, will come with side effects. Surgery is recommended in certain cases.

The chiropractic view is that tinnitus is caused by injury to the upper cervical spine (or a subluxation somewhere along the spine).

SELF TREATMENT

Natural treatments would depend on the cause, just as conventional treatments will. The following suggestions are general in nature and may help lessen discomfort.

DIET

Impaired immunity will make you more susceptible to tinnitus. Lowering inflammation may help. To do that, and boost immunity, it is important to eat a balanced diet, with as much variety as you can manage, with lots of whole, fresh vegetables and fruits, quality protein and healthy sources of monounsaturated fat. The Zone is an excellent nutrition plan. See Inflammation for food suggestions.

FOODS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES TO REDUCE OR ELIMINATE

Not all substances below affect everyone in the same way, so try abstaining for a while and see if it helps. Keep a diary. (Of course, these substances are never good for you but they may or may not affect the ringing in your ears.)

  • Alcohol increases blood flow in the inner ear (and everywhere else).
  • Any foods or substances to which you are allergic
  • Aspirin
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine may make your symptoms worse.
  • Salt

HERBS AND SPICES

  • Ginkgo

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils may improve your condition. Do NOT put them inside your ear. Use them mixed with a carrier oil for a light massage around your ear and neck area. Alternatively, you could put a little bit on a cotton ball (but not enough to drip) and place that loosely in your outer ear. How much EO’s may help will depend on the cause of your tinnitus. You can blend them.

  • Basil
  • Cypress
  • Frankincense
  • Helichrysum
  • Juniper berry
  • Lavender
  • Patchouli
  • Petitgrain

OTHER SUBSTANCES AND SUPPLEMENTS

HYDRATION

Water is essential and a main nutrient for the human body. Without it, you cannot survive for many days. Staying hydrated is fundamental for a healthy body, so how much is enough? There are so many differences in people (i.e., how much we sweat), as well as the diets we consume (a lot of water comes from healthy, whole foods), but a general rule is to consume enough water that your urine is clear, but not so much that you dilute your nutrients. If you are taking certain supplements that make your urine yellow, then you can start out with the formula of drinking ½ to one ounce of water for each pound you weigh. If you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 to 130 ounces of water a day. Definitely drink when you are thirsty.

EXERCISE

Regular exercise will help reduce stress, improve sleep, ease depression, and boost immunity. If you are ill, you will want to take it easy, of course, but there is always something you can do to support your body. Do what you can without making yourself feel worse. Exercise in fresh air whenever possible.

SLEEP

Studies show that lack of quality sleep affects the production of disease-fighting antibodies and it can make your tinnitus symptoms worse, too. If you wake in the morning after 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep feeling unrested, you aren’t getting enough sleep or you have an underlying health condition.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

Stay calm. Anxiety undermines health. You may have more anxiety than usual because of the tinnitus. Practice relaxation exercises, talk to a friend, meditate. Do what works for you to stay mellow. Some of the following relaxation methods may be helpful for you:

OTHER THINGS YOU CAN TRY OR SHOULDN’T DO

  • Never use a Q-tip in your ear.
  • Avoid loud noise.
  • Masking (using low-level noise to drown out the tinnitus sound)
  • Combine a tablespoonful Apple Cider Vinegar with a little honey and water and drink daily (if it doesn’t reduce the ringing, it has other health benefits).
  • The following drops may be appropriate for infections:
    • Onion juice drops
    • Holy basil juice drops
    • Saline drops

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

CAUTIONS

Call a doctor

  • If you are dizzy or experience loss of hearing.
  • If the sounds occur suddenly with no identifiable cause.
  • If the sounds begin following a respiratory infection and don’t improve within several days.

PREVENTION

  • A wholesome, balanced diet
  • Adequate hydration
  • Regular exercise
  • Low stress levels
  • Quality sleep
  • Avoid loud noises, especially prolonged ones.
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