Tinnitus is an acoustic perception that is only perceived by the person affected. The tinnitus therefore has nothing to do with the sound in the environment. Everyone has a background noise in the ear - but normally the brain is able to block it out. In tinnitus patients, this noise reaches the level of conscious perception. This is caused by damaged sensory cells in the ear, which are covered with tiny hairs. They resonate with the sound waves that are transmitted from the environment to the eardrum and then to the inner ear. This produces a signal that is passed on to the brain by the hearing cells. Broken hearing cells also send signals when nothing can be heard from the outside - and this causes the tinnitus.
The type of apparent sounds is very varied. The acoustic impressions can be heard as whistling, hissing, hissing, crackling, chirping or humming. The noise can be constant in its volume and perception, but it can also take on a rhythmic - pulsating character or change in volume and at times not be perceived at all. If the tinnitus changes in its volume or only occurs at certain times, one should observe exactly what could be the trigger. Tinnitus is often considered a disease, although it is usually the symptom of another disease. It is therefore very important to investigate the cause of the tinnitus. When did the tinnitus first occur and what happened at that time? In some cases, the triggering factor can be determined and thus a suitable therapy can be found.
Tinnitus is divided into two categories:
The subjective tinnitus (approx. 95%) can only be perceived by the patient himself, whereas the objective tinnitus (approx. 5%) can also be audible to the examiner when measured in the ear canal.
From the beginning of the tinnitus, three phases are usually distinguished:
Acute tinnitus (up to 3 months), subacute tinnitus (3 to 6 months) and chronic tinnitus (over 6 months). In the acute and subacute phases, spontaneous healing or improvement of the symptoms occurs relatively often. Medical therapy is most effective during this time. However, the longer the tinnitus exists, the higher the probability that it will persist permanently.
The first way to treat tinnitus should always be to consult an ENT specialist.
For further medical therapies, such as the Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), or whether a neurostimulator could help, we recommend consulting a specialist. For additional information, please visit the website of Dr. Hannes Wurzer, head of a tinnitus therapy center in Munich.
For information about other therapies, please click here.