Do you suffer from constant buzzing or noises in your ears? The newest research shows that it may very well be “all in your head” or to be more precise…all in your brain not in your ears.
Most of us have experienced some form of ringing in the ears following a loud concert, excessive group talking or an exciting sports event. For over 300 million people world-wide (that’s close to 1 in every 8 people), this ringing and noise in their ears never stops. They suffer from a condition called Tinnitus. There are different types of tinnitus as well, and the variety may give clues as to its origin.
- Throbbing or pulsing, which may be due to vascular tumors near the ear
- High-pitched and continuous (this is most common)
- Clicking, which may be related to muscle spasms in the roof of your mouth, which cause the Eustachian tube in your ear to open and close; temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues may also cause a clicking sound in your ear
- Buzzing or humming
If you are one of these people and suffer from Tinnitus, you understand the frustrations and incredible stress this condition causes.
Luckily science has learned a lot more about the causes and cures for this condition over the past few years!
Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus is a symptom, and not a cause, of some thing being out of working order in the body and brain. In that it is based in the brain and is a response to some sort of aggravating biological condition, the causes can be from quite a few different conditions. Here are the most common ones.
Consistent Loud Music/ Noise:
Noise induced tinnitus can be reversed if the music or sounds are removed from the environment. If not, and they continue to be listened to, the tinnitus may well become permanent hearing loss due to damage to the cochlear nerve
New studies show that the areas of the brain which control noise and pain signals, can become dysfunctional, which leads to chronic perceptions of noise sensations. The mechanisms in the brain that would usually control noise and pain signals loses the ability to do so, which in turn leads to a perception of noise or pain long after the initial injury occurred.
Researchers from the University of Iowa and Newcastle University discovered that the condition affects areas of the brain beyond the primary auditory cortex. They found this person’s brain was also active in the areas involved with the broader perceptions of noises, including those that control attention, memory, and emotion, New Scientist reported.
“It’s like when you’re walking home on a dark night and you can hear every little flicker of sound that would normally go unnoticed,” Will Sedley, of the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle, told New Scientist. “Maybe in people with tinnitus, the ‘high alert’ activity somehow kicks in, gains access to wider perception networks in the brain, and is difficult to dislodge.”
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a cause that can be seen in contact sport athletes, car accidents involving head injuries and military personnel.
Tinnitus is also associated with chronic pain disorders (especially neck and TMJ) and migraine headaches, including migraines, and often leads to sleep difficulties such as delayed sleep, mid-sleep awakenings and chronic fatigue.
Abnormal Bone Growth:
Abnormal bone growth in the middle ear, known as otosclerosis, may also cause tinnitus, as can damage to your vestibulocochlear nerve, which transmits sound from your ear to your brain. Such damage may occur from acoustic neuroma tumor or drug toxicity.
Medications and Ibuprofen:
Additionally, certain medications, including certain cancer drugs, sedatives, and anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen and aspirin may also trigger tinnitus. This form of tinnitus often is “cured” as soon as the medication is stopped.
Many people with tinnitus first noticed the ringing in their ears during a stressful life event, such as divorce, being laid off, sickness in family members, accidents or surgery.
Patients with tinnitus process emotions differently in the brain from those with normal hearing, researchers report in the journal Brain Research.
Activity in the amygdala, a brain region associated with emotional processing, was lower in the tinnitus and hearing-loss patients than in people with normal hearing. Tinnitus patients also showed more activity than normal-hearing people in two other brain regions associated with emotion, the parahippocampus and the insula.
There are food additives and food sensitivities that can cause or exerbate ringing in the ears. These are harder to pinpoint so you may need to get tested or conduct an elimination diet protocol to determine the ones you react to most.
This is a good article to read for some of the most common, but sensitivities vary per person so you will know best which foods make you feel worse rather than better after eating them.
Tinnitus can be caused by a number of different conditions including Diabetes, vestibular disorders, Cardiovascular disorders, Meniere’s disease, low thyroid function, hypertension, allergies, and on very rare cases a tumor.
One of the most common causes of tinnitus is due to inflammation and
poor circulation within the inner ear. When the body is chronically inflamed certain inflammatory mediating prostaglandins are secreted in high amounts. These pro-inflammatory mediators cause an increase in vasoconstriction and platelet aggregation.
Cures for Tinnitus
Diet – read here for what to eat
Stress Relief – read here for ways to do this
Acupuncture – read here for the highly effectiveness of this therapy
Sound Therapy/Counseling – read here for what and why it works
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – read for research on why it works
We really liked the following video and want to encourage you to view it. It covers the latest research on what exactly causes tinnitus and what strategies you can do to get relief. We are hopeful that it helps you have a happier and more peace-filled life.