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The Different Types Of Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a prevalent symptom that people of all ages can experience. Most doctors describe this manifestation as a buzzing or ringing noise in one or both ears. It’s important to realize that tinnitus is a symptom of another underlying condition.

When your doctor determines what type of tinnitus you have, they can successfully identify the underlying condition. Once the underlying condition is revealed, your medical professional can prescribe a course of treatment to remedy your tinnitus. It can be helpful to fully understand the various types of tinnitus that people suffer from so that you can feel more knowledgeable about going to your doctor’s appointment.

Subjective Tinnitus

Subjective tinnitus is the most common type that people experience. In fact, it accounts for a whopping 95 percent of all diagnosed tinnitus cases. This condition is typically temporary as it can last anywhere between 3 to 12 months.

Exposure to loud noises is the cause of subjective tinnitus. It’s recommended that you protect your ears from any sort of prolonged exposure to loud noises that are above 85 decibels. To put that into perspective, here are some common noises and their barometer readings:

  • Lawn Mower – 90 dB
  • Motorcycle – 97 dB
  • Chain Saw – 110 dB
  • Rock Concert – 120 dB
  • Jet Engine Take Off – 140 dB

Those who suffer from subjective tinnitus are the only ones that can hear the noise. It comes and goes and can vary in its intensity and length. Many people with this condition have trouble focusing on the relevant sounds in their atmosphere as the tinnitus makes it difficult to concentrate.

Treatment Options

Audiologists will likely prescribe those suffering from subjective tinnitus specialized type hearing aids. These specialized devices will play a calming sound that will help to distract the sufferer from the buzzing or ringing that they hear from tinnitus. Hearing aids are to be used until the tinnitus permanently goes away.

Sensory (Neurological) Tinnitus

Sensory tinnitus, also referred to sometimes as neurological tinnitus, is the side effect of an impaired auditory system. Essentially, various disorders affect the way in which your brain processes sound. This condition is considered permanent, and patients are prescribed a tinnitus management program to help reduce the effects of this symptom.

Many times, patients with sensory tinnitus also suffer from other neurological symptoms. These include balance issues, vertigo, and dizziness. Sensory tinnitus can be caused by any of the following medical conditions:

  • Meniere’s Disease
  • Whiplash
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Vestibular Schwannoma
  • Head Injuries
  • Cerebellopontine-Angle Tumors

Treatment Options

With sensory tinnitus, the treatment that will be prescribed will depend on the specific underlying condition. While conditions like Meniere’s Disease are chronic, doctors can prescribe medications that can assist in reducing the side effects of the condition, including tinnitus.

Somatic (Conductive) Tinnitus

Somatic tinnitus, also known as conductive tinnitus, is caused by muscle spasms that take place in the neck or ear. These symptoms are not caused by inner functions like sensory tinnitus. Most sufferers experience this particular type of tinnitus in only one ear.

Movements like the twist of a neck on a pillow or turning to look at someone can cause somatic tinnitus. In addition, dental problems can be a source of this condition. Issues like popping of the jaw and impacted wisdom teeth tend to flare up this condition in sufferers.

Treatment Options

The treatment that your doctor prescribes will highly depend on the specific underlying condition that is causing the somatic tinnitus. Having a dental professional fix dental issues can eliminate these symptoms altogether. In other cases, your doctor may prescribe massage and physiotherapy to loosen tight muscles.

Objective (Pulsatile) Tinnitus

Objective tinnitus is one of the rarest forms of tinnitus. This is the only form of tinnitus that an audiologist can hear with the assistance of a stethoscope. This type of tinnitus is usually caused by vascular deformities, middle ear conditions, or involuntary muscle contractions.

Most sufferers describe this form of tinnitus as pulsating and in-line with their heartbeat. Your doctor can identify the underlying cause of this symptom and successfully treat it with medical intervention or surgery. You may also hear this condition referred to as pulsatile tinnitus.

Treatment Options

Since objective tinnitus is a symptom of another underlying condition, it’s fully treatable with medical intervention. Your physician will first diagnose the underlying condition and then prescribe a course of treatment. This course of treatment can include medication or surgery.

Tips On Seeking Treatment

With the various forms of tinnitus discussed above affecting about 32 percent of the entire United States population, there are many resources available to assist you with this symptom. It’s crucial that you schedule an appointment with your primary physician or audiologist to determine the type of tinnitus you’re experiencing and what you can do to remedy the situation.

You should seek treatment sooner rather than later. Tinnitus is well-known to significantly impact a patient’s overall quality of life. Many people who suffer from tinnitus also experience:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Memory Problems
  • Trouble Concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Fatigue

It’s best to talk with your healthcare provider when you first experience symptoms. This way, they can evaluate your condition and prescribe a course of treatment. With subjective, somantic, and objective tinnitus, your doctor can diagnose the cause and provide you with swift treatment to remedy your unpleasant condition.

While not all forms of tinnitus are treatable, they are manageable with the right treatment options. Hearing aids can play an important role in helping sufferers deal with temporary tinnitus until the underlying problem is completely remedied and the tinnitus subsides. Do yourself a favor and seek treatment early on so that you can avoid dealing with other unwanted symptoms as a result of dealing with tinnitus.