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Adults

Tinnitus and Dizziness

Tinnitus :: Dizziness

Tinnitus

Tinnitus is referred to as ringing or roaring sound that occurs in one or both ears. The sound may be soft or loud, high pitched, or low pitched. In older people, it can be one of the sign for hearing loss.

Causes

Tinnitus most commonly results from damage of the microscopic endings of the hearing nerve in the inner ear. Injury to these endings further causes hearing loss. Exposure to loud noises and side effect of certain medicines such as anti-inflammatory, antibiotics, sedatives, antidepressants, and aspirin can cause tinnitus. Tinnitus may also be caused by other conditions such as ear blockage, ear and sinus infections, allergies, high or low blood pressure, tumors, and problems in the heart, blood vessels, Meniere's disease, hormonal changes in women, and thyroid abnormalities.

Symptoms

A buzzing or ringing type of sound is heard in the ear which is accompanied by a syndrome known as Meniere's disease. Meniere's disease is an inner ear disorder that causes severe hearing loss, ringing in the ears, and dizziness.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will diagnose tinnitus condition by a thorough physical examination and a detailed medical history. Additional tests such as complete hearing test (audiogram), brain scan such as MRI or CT scan may be required to confirm the condition.

Spinal tap test may also be required to evaluate the fluid pressure in the skull and spinal cord.

Treatment

Treatment options for tinnitus include:

  • Counseling: It is an educational component that helps you to understand and change the way of thinking about tinnitus

  • Hearing aids: These devices help people having hearing loss along with tinnitus. These devices help to control the outside sound levels and make it easier to hear

  • Wearable sound generators: These are small electronic devices placed in the ear which will mask the tinnitus by using a soft pleasant sound

  • Tabletop sound generators: In this a generator is used to play pleasant sounds such as waves, waterfalls, rain, or the sounds of a summer night to help you relax or fall asleep

  • Acoustic neural stimulation: It is a new technique for people who experience very loud ringing sound. It involves the use of a palm-sized device and headphones that play music that is embedded with a broadband acoustic signal. This treatment will stimulate the change in the neural pathways and allows the brain to become desensitized to the sound

  • Cochlear implant: The cochlear implant helps to mask tinnitus and stimulates the fibers of the auditory nerve

  • Antidepressants and antianxiety drugs may be recommended to relax and help to get sleep

Prevention

Some of the preventive tips to reduce or lessen the severity of tinnitus are:

  • Avoid exposure to loud sounds and noises
  • Blood pressure should be regularly checked and controlled
  • Prefer low intake of salt in the food as it impairs blood circulation
  • Reduce intake of coffee, tea, cola, and tobacco
  • Routine exercises to improve your circulation
  • Get enough rest and avoid exhaustion
  • Avoid worrying about the noise

Dizziness

Dizziness means feeling of light-headedness or the feeling of imbalance or unsteadiness. Dizziness is classified into two categories lightheadedness and vertigo. Lightheadedness is a feeling of fainting and vertigo is a feeling of spinning sensation with loss of balance.

Causes

Dizziness is often caused by decreased blood supply to the brain and the impaired blood supply may be because of low blood pressure or dehydration which may be caused by diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Elderly people may experience lightheadedness when they get up quickly from a lying or seated position. Lightheadedness may also be associated with flu, low blood sugar, sweating, common cold, or allergies. Vertigo is often associated with inner ear problems. Other conditions that lead to dizziness include heart problems and stroke and in these cases patients may also develop symptoms like chest pain, loss of speech, and change in vision.

The most common causes of vertigo may include:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) -The crystals in the inner ear become dislodged and move to one of the semicircular canals and cause irritation. It is caused because of sudden positioning of the head and most commonly occurs in older people

  • Labyrinthitis - It is an ear disorder that involves inflammation of the middle ear which commonly occurs after a viral infection

  • Meniere's disease - It is an inner ear disorder that causes severe hearing loss, ringing in the ears and dizziness. The disease can affect one or both ears

  • Acoustic neuroma - It is a non-cancerous tumor of the ear causing ringing in the ears, hearing loss and dizziness and balance problems

  • Trauma to the inner ear

  • Barotrauma causes damage to the inner ear and vertigo due to pressure changes between the middle and inner ear

Symptoms

You may feel spinning sensation associated with loss of balance and unsteadiness. Other symptoms include decreased hearing and ringing in the ear (tinnitus). Nausea and vomiting may be also associated with vertigo causing dehydration and weakness.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will perform a thorough physical examination and may ask you about the associated symptoms and past medical history. Your doctor will check your blood pressure and may order hearing, ECG, and neurological tests to provide necessary treatment. Hearing tests may be recommended to make sure that that the middle ear, the cochlea, and the auditory nerve are functioning accurately and to know the cause of vertigo.

Treatment

Dizziness is a symptom and not a disease and if it is not treated at the right time, it may lead to serious health problems.

Treatment includes treating underlying disease conditions.

  • Dehydration - Drink more amounts of liquids or fluids and in cases where you are unable to drink water then intravenous administration may be preferred

  • Fever or infection - Medications for fever or antibiotics to treat infections may be prescribed

  • If dizziness is due to heart conditions or anxiety related disorders necessary treatment may be initiated

  • Vertigo from BPPV or labyrinthitis is often treated with vestibular rehabilitation exercises, also referred to as Epley maneuvers. It involves positioning and manipulating the patients head to remove the crystals from the semicircular canals and thus reducing the inflammation

  • Medications such as diazepam and meclizine may be prescribed to reduce the inflammation within the vestibular system

  • Your doctor may recommend a soft collar to restrict range of motion of the head

  • Antiviral medications such as acyclovir or valacyclovir may be prescribed for viral infections causing the labyrinthitis

  • Surgery may be needed in patients with acoustic neuroma or other anatomical disorders of the ear

Prevention

Certain measures can prevent dizziness and they include:

  • Stand up slowly to avoid sudden changes in blood pressure

  • Drink plenty of water or fluids to prevent dehydration

  • Have regular meals to avoid giddiness

  • Low salt diet

  • Treat ear infections, cold, flu, and other respiratory infections that may cause dizziness

  • Secure your home with rugs and carpets to prevent serious injury when you trip and fall

  • Avoid caffeine products such as coffee, alcohol, or tobacco. Excess use of these will increase the symptoms and restrict your blood vessels
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