?What is This Ringing and Buzzing in My Ears? It Could Be Tinnitus
What is Tinnitus and what causes it?
Picture standing in an open field in late August-the sounds of tiny insects, especially crickets fill your head. But it’s mid-February and you hear them just the same. Medical science calls this affliction, Tinnitus (tin-EYE-tus)-ringing, buzzing sounds I hear every waking moment.
The Mayo Clinic describes Tinnitus as inner ear cell damage.
Tiny, delicate hairs in your inner ear move in relation to the pressure of sound waves. This triggers ear cells to release an electrical signal through a nerve from your ear (auditory nerve) to your brain. Your brain interprets these signals as sound. If the hairs inside your inner ear are bent or broken, they can “”leak”” random electrical impulses to your brain, causing tinnitus.
Many people suffer from tinnitus as a natural result of aging. A study released by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) puts most of the blame for tinnitus on cochlear damage (74.8%), while other factors contribute to the problem such as: ear infections, explosions (mainly firearms) and brief bursts of noise (loud music, diesel truck engines, etc.) and bodily injuries like whiplash.
Other contributing sources of tinnitus can be certain medications, especially aspirin taken on a daily basis by many patients with heart disease.
The Source of My Tinnitus
I’m convinced that the source of my tinnitus began many years ago in the form of cochlear damage resulting from two activities:
1. Flying-In 1962 I began taking flying lessons in small airplanes with very noisy engines. In those days we didn’t have noise-cancelling earphones. We turned up the volume on the radio so it was louder than the roar of the engine. It wasn’t until some time in the 1980s that noise-cancelling headsets became the norm.
2. Also in the 1960s I became a police officer. At least twice a year I had to qualify with a handgun–.38 caliber at first then.357 magnum. During that eight year period I fired well over 1000 rounds of pistol and shotgun ammunition. Our firearms instructors of that era taught us that since we didn’t wear ear protection while we worked our shifts, we should not rely on it while at the firing range. It wasn’t until FBI instructors saw the folly in this method of teaching and began wearing ear protection, that the rest of us followed suit.
By the time I reached age 50 I had a slight hearing loss that just got progressively worse. I don’t remember exactly when the tinnitus began-but I would guess it’s been nearly 15-20 years ago.
Every doctor I mentioned the problem to indicated that the damage had been done and I would just have to live with it. And until recently I have done just that.
What About Herbal Cures?
Much has been written about herbal cures for tinnitus. One such wonder herb mentioned is ginkgo biloba. Today, people use ginkgo leaf extracts hoping to improve memory; to treat or help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia; to decrease intermittent claudication (leg pain caused by narrowing arteries); and to treat sexual dysfunction, multiple sclerosis, tinnitus, and other health conditions.
Under a mandate from Congress, The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) was charged with the “”dissemination of health information…with respect to identifying, investigation and validating complementary and alternative treatments. The NCCAM does not provide medical advice or referrals to specific practitioners. Rather, they recommend discussing the results of their studies with a health care provider before making decisions regarding treatment or care.
According to NCCAM, numerous studies of ginkgo have been done for a variety of conditions. Some promising results have been seen for intermittent claudication, but larger, well-designed research studies are needed.
Many mainstream physicians simply ignore the value, if any, of homeopathic remedies because they didn’t learn about them in med school. Tinnitus can be so overwhelming annoying to some people that they become deeply depressed-some to the point of considering suicide.
According to Thomas Coleman, an independent health issues researcher, “”A recent major medical study showed that unless sinus, stress and anxiety related issues are tackled, treating the ear nerves will not stop tinnitus. Many tinnitus patients who went under the knife have continued to suffer from tinnitus regardless of how successful the operation was.
“”The fact is: most of the conventional methods, including all sorts of drugs, muscle relaxers, vitamins and surgeries don’t work and they are less effective than ever before and will make your Tinnitus and your health worse in the long run! Why? Because unless all internal factors, which are responsible for tinnitus, are treated and eliminated, the inner ear nerves will continue to cause the ringing, beeping and pulsing sounds.””