Tinnitus: Those bells are ringing!
Tinnitus is a condition in which there is “ringing” in the ears. The noise can be intermittent or continuous, and can vary in loudness. Some people hear a hissing or buzzing, rather than ringing.
Many causes – almost everything that can go wrong with our ears can produce tinnitus as a symptom! Perhaps as simple as wax against the eardrum, or as serious as a tumour on the hearing nerve. Otosclerosis (fixation of the tiny stirrup bone in the middle ear) can produce tinnitus; so can Meniere’s disease. . Noise destroys! EXPOSURE TO EXCESSIVE NOISE, e.g. chain saws, machinery, rock concerts, IPODs/music earphones. Damage to the middle or inner ear can create an annoying buzzing or ringing sound that can become worse with age and is related to a progressive arthritis or otosclerosis (bones of the ear) Treatment therefore depends on limiting factors that will cause further damage and considering the sorts of treatment you might consider for generalised arthritis, plus increasing blood flow and circulation to the specific affected areas.
Hearing aids Good quality and properly fitted- can reduce and even eliminate most tinnitus associated with hearing losses. Hearing aids take away the strain of listening and distract from the tinnitus by bringing you more environmental sounds from the outside world.
Therapeutic Noise Generator– if the tinnitus or ringing is constant and annoying this device which looks like a hearing aid and recommended for people with no hearing loss. It produces a blend of external sounds which stimulate most fibres of the hearing nerve helping to deviate attention away from the tinnitus, and may help people adjust to living and studying/reading etc.
Nervous system diet:
Go High antioxidant,low carb, High fat (saturated, monounsaturated fatty acids and omega 3 fish and flax oils) protein + EFA oil, multicoloured fresh foods- as many vegetables as you can get into your system. Vitamins A,D, E are fat soluble and need a protein/fat source such as cold water fatty fish 3-5 times a week to help your gut absorb these essential nutrients. B vitamins,meat nuts and seeds.Try green smoothies for breakfast, with Spirulina, chlorella and parsley, plus add trace minerals to your smoothie, particularly chromium and vanadium to balance your insulin levels and prevent a proinflammatory state. Supplement with omega 3 oils 3 capsules 3x/day.
Once the condition occurs it is managed by attempting to correct the source- treat and manage infections such as viral causes with Vitamin C, L-lysine, herbal supplements (Echinacea, Elderberry, turmeric, ginger, Golden Seal) and manage stress with Herbs (Withania, ginseng, Rehmannia) yoga, relaxation/meditation, massages, osteopathy, acupressure and acupuncture.
5% of tinnitus is caused by a jaw joint (TMJ) problem as jaw muscles and a muscle in the middle ear are closely connected. When jaw muscles spasm the ear muscles react by pulling the eardrum too tight, and this situation can result in tinnitus. A remedial massage therapist using essential oils of helichrysum, lavender and copaiba may help reduce these taught trigger points.
In many people the middle ear is at fault, but virtually any part of the hearing system (includes ear and brain) may be the culprit. If the inner ear, or cochlear, is involved it may progress to hearing loss, a decreased ability to hear, which is divided into two main categories: Conductive, which is hearing loss due to something interfering with the sound passing to the inner ear; and sensorineural –caused by nerve or organ damage within the ear (viral, bacterial, trauma). Loud noise, aging, infection, ear wax, tumors and other conditions can cause hearing loss. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
Effective in alleviating distress and producing adaptation to tinnitus. CBT is threefold: changing the way a person perceives tinnitus; teaching ways to focus attention away from tinnitus and achieving control over stress. Offered by clinical psychologists.
Eat to Nourish your Nerves! Try to eat a salad a day and a piece of fish such as sardines, salmon or an egg plus flax oil dressing and a couple of handfuls of nuts -walnuts and cashews have adequate vitamin B6 and some oils to replenish your nervous system.
What Can Make Tinnitus Worse and how can I help prevent and Treat?
1. Loud noise! – Exposure to sudden or long-term noise can damage your hearing with resultant deafness and tinnitus. High-risk groups include industrial workers, farmers, transport workers – and don’t forget that noisy lawn mower! Reduce the noise source or protect your ears with earplugs, or ear muffs. Leisure noise can also be a hazard, e.g. rock concerts, boom boxes in cars and misuse of a digital iphone/ipods – never play it loudly.
2. Stress and Fatigue – They make tinnitus worse! Keeping busy – trying to focus your energies OUTWARD AND AWAY from the tinnitus – is an excellent idea, but stress and fatigue only undermine your healing. Minimise them by rethinking your lifestyle. Relaxation therapy can help greatly if practised daily.
Hypnotherapy from a qualified practitioner may help. Also good – sports, hobbies, yoga, t’ai chi, reflexology or massage.
3. Medications – It is essential to tell your family doctor about your tinnitus; some common medications cause tinnitus as a side effect or make your existing tinnitus worse. Take special care with medications for arthritis, rheumatic diseases, some antibiotics, and anti-depressants. Also aspirin – ask your doctor about alternatives.
4. Try easing off caffeine (tea, coffee, coca-cola, chocolate), and alcohol as they can temporarily worsen tinnitus for some people. Avoid quinine – as in “tonic” water .Avoid Nicotine and marijuana too. Smoking narrows your blood vessels which supply vital oxygen to your ears and their sensory cells. PLEASE – quit smoking!
5. Take supplements: Gingko biloba, Gotu kola essential anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids (DHA, EPA) Quercetin, Vitamin A,D,C,E, B’s Zinc, Magnesium, Selenium and a diet high in antioxidants (berries, green leafy veges) will help reduce stress and repair your body. Check with your Doctor for doses if on warfarin.
6. Eat a well balanced diet, get adequate exercise 20min/day- maintain a healthy weight; being obese results in an proinflammatory state. Exercise helps to lubricate your body and allows the nutrients to get through to your cells. Reducing atherosclerosis and plaque build up with good nutrition and exercise will keep the circulation to your nervous system active and healthy.
7. Keep your Ears/head and neck warm! If your circulation to your ears is reduced with your body’s attempt to stay warm, the tinnitus can get more pronounced.
Chai tea for Ear health: in a large pot 5 cups of water and 5 tbsp of Dandelion tea/coffee and brew with 2 tbs each of coconut milk, coconut oil, 3 cm of Rehmannia glutinosa root (from chinese supermarket) pinch of turmeric, cardamom pods, anise, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg, plus 2 drops of stevia or honey to taste, blend in 1 tsp of flax oil prior to serving .
8. Get regular soothing, gentle neck and shoulder massages this will keep the blood circulating efficiently through your auditory nervous system, oxygenate and cleanse and prevent toxin build up.