Tinnitus

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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-05-15 (EDT)

Tinnitus
Tinnitus.jpg

Tinnitus
Causes Dietary Factors, Environmental Allergies, Heavy Metals, Stress, Prescription Medications
See Also Neurological Conditions, Head, Ears, Eyes, Nose and Throat Conditions, Depression, Anxiety, Anemia, Hypertension, Hyperthyroidism
Books Books on Head, Ears, Nose and Throat Conditions, Books on Neurological Conditions
Articles Articles on Head, Ears, Eyes, Nose and Throat Conditions

Tinnitus or ringing in the ears is described as a noise in the ears that can only be heard by the individual experiencing it. The noise can manifest as ringing, roaring, hissing, etc. The intensity of the sound can be mild to severely disturbing and be constant or may come and go. Tinnitus is an unwanted sound occurring without an external origin. Approximately 10% to 15% of the population experience tinnitus.[1]

Naturopathic Assessment

Causal Factors

In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. Anything that affects hearing, such as an ear infection or excess wax in the ear, can make tinnitus worse. A detailed assessment is required to determine which factors are contributing to tinnitus. Whether the tinnitus is constant or intermittent will provide a guide to specific causal factors.

Lifestyle

  • Postural misalignment, especially of the cervical spine, can result in tinnitus or can intensify the impact of other factors.
  • Chronic tinnitus tends to be associated with chronic sleep disorders.[2]
  • Tinnitus, in and of itself, can disrupt sleep.

Social

  • Stress may aggravate tinnitus and may increase the perception of tinnitus.[3]

Environmental

External

  • Injury
  • Physical trauma to the head or ear drum may cause tinnitus.[3]
  • Exposure to loud noises, especially over time, is a common cause of tinnitus as loud noise damages the auditory nerve.[4]

Medical Interventions

  • Prescription Medications
  • Many drugs have tinnitus as a result of an adverse reaction. Often the tinnitus will resolve on stopping the medication, but in some cases it may be permanent.[5] Common drugs associated with tinnitus include aspirin (if overused), aminoglycoside antibiotics and quinine.

Physiology

  • Age
  • Tinnitus increases with age and is more common in men.[5]

Diagnostic Testing

Initial assessment will include a complete history and physical examination. The onset of the tinnitus, the frequency and variability are provide a guide to determining root cause. For example, tinnitus that is due to auditory nerve damage is typically constant, whereas if the tinnitus is due to food or medication it is more likely to have more variability.

  • Auditory Function Assessment
  • Auditory testing including audiography, tympanometry, and speech discrimination testing should be performed to assess baseline auditory function.[3]
  • Other Imaging
  • At times a computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also be required.

Related Symptoms and Conditions

Article What Is That Buzzing In My Ear?, 2011 February NDNR

Dilation of the blood vessels through the arteries of the neck can initiate or aggravate the symptoms. Health problems associated with tinnitus include:[3]

  • Pulsatile tinnitus is typically related to the blood flow near the ear. Associated conditions with pulsatile tinnitus include:

Characteristics

  • Tinnitus is often secondary to hearing loss and can involve dysfunction in the brain or any portion of the auditory pathway. [5]
  • Pulsatile tinnitus occurs when an individual is able to hear their own heart beat. This occurs more often in individuals with stiffened arteries.[6]

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Tinnitus is typically a chronic disease and requires ongoing evaluation and individualized treatment.

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.

Home Care

Home Care strategies include:

  • Tracking any increase in intensity or frequency of tinnitus and the associated lifestyle factors can provide a valuable guide on how to minimize the impact of tinnitus on health.
  • Nasal lavage may prove beneficial for some individuals.
  • Relaxation therapy may be effective in mitigating tinnitus.[5]
  • If tinnitus is aggravated by teeth clenching or grinding, relaxation therapy to decrease these precipitating factors may be beneficial.[6]
  • Cognitive and behavioral therapy, sound therapy, music therapy are beneficial.[7]
  • Masking therapy has been shown effective in treating tinnitus. This therapy involves using a noise making device to produce white noise to reduce the perception of tinnitus.[6]

Lifestyle

Lifestyle recommendations include:

  • Address any dietary triggers.
  • Ensure you drink adequate water.
  • Exercise such as Qi Gong, Tia Chi and Yoga may be beneficial in reducing the symptoms of tinnitus.[8]
  • Stretching and postural training can be an effective treatment.[9]
  • Because of the connection between sleep disturbances and chronic tinnitus it is advisable to address any sleep concerns.

Naturopathic Therapies

The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.

Article Efficacy of Vitamin B3 and its related Coenzymes for the Treatment of Bell's Palsy, Huntington's Disease, Migrain and Chronic Tension-Type Headaches, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson Disease, and Tinnitus J Orthomolecular Med 2012;Vol27(2)
Traditional Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture recognizes the different presentations associated with tinnitus and the following strategies are commonly employed based on individual presentation:[14]
  • Drain liver-fire, ease the ears, calm the mind and settle the ethereal soul, resolve phlegm, drain fire, subdue liver-yang, regulate the ascending of clear Qi and descending of turbid Qi, tonify the spleen
  • Auricular acupuncture can be beneficial treatment.[9]
  • Naturopathic manipulation may be beneficial for some individuals, especially if the tinnitus is due to injury or postural misalignment.
  • Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS) has been shown to be effective in reducing and eliminating tinnitus in some individuals.[15]
  • Massage may be helpful.[7]

References

Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND [1]

  1. Pizzorno Joseph, Murray Michael, Joiner-Bey Herb (2007) The Clinician's Handbook of Natural Medicine, Churchill Livingstone.
  2. Alster J, Shemesh Z, Ornan M, Attias J (July 1993) Sleep disturbance associated with chronic tinnitus. Biol Psychiatry.;34(1-2):84-90. PMID: 8373941.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Crummer RW, Hassan GA (2004) Diagnostic Approach to Tinnitus Am Fam Physician 69(1):120-6
  4. Dehmel S, Pradhan S, Koehler S, Bledsoe S, Shore S (Feb 2012) Noise overexposure alters long-term somatosensory-auditory processing in the dorsal cochlear nucleus--possible basis for tinnitus-related hyperactivity? J Neurosci.;32(5):1660-71. PMID: 22302808
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Borkan J. (2011) Ferri's Clinical Advisor 1st ed Section 1T Tinnitus Mosby. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "ferri" defined multiple times with different content
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Harvard Women's Health Watch. (Sep 2011) 19(1):4-6.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Han BI, Lee HW, Kim TY, Lim JS, Shin KS (Mar 2009) Tinnitus: characteristics, causes, mechanisms, and treatments. J Clin Neurol.;5(1):11-9. PMID: 19513328.
  8. Biesinger E, Kipman U, Schätz S, Langguth B (Sept 2010) Qigong for the treatment of tinnitus: a prospective randomized controlled study. J Psychosom Res.;69(3):299-304. PMID: 20708452.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Latifpour DH, Grenner J, Sjödahl C (2009) The effect of a new treatment based on somatosensory stimulation in a group of patients with somatically related tinnitus. Int Tinnitus J.;15(1):94-9. PMID: 19842352.
  10. Godfrey Anthony, Saunders Paul Richard, Barlow Kerry, Gilbert Cyndi, Gowan Matthew, Smith Fraser (2010) Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Botanical Medicine, Vol 1: Botanical Medicine Monographs, CCNM Press, Toronto
  11. Boon Heather, Smith Michael (2004) The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to the 50 Most Common Medicinal Herbs, Robert Rose, Toronto
  12. Hershoff Asa (2000) Homeopathic Remedies, A Quick and Easy Guide to Common Disorders and their Homeopathic Treatments, Avery Publishing Group, New York
  13. Ullman Robert, Reichenberg-Ullman Judyth (1997) Homeopathic Self-Care, the quick and easy guide for the whole family. Prima Publishing
  14. Maciocia G (1994) The Practice of Chinese Medicine: The Treatment of Diseases with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs. Churchill Livingstone.
  15. Bauer CA (2010) Flint: Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery 5th ed Chap 150 Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Mosby