Tinnitus symptoms causes and treatment guide health

Tinnitus: Modern therapies promise reliefConstant hissing, buzzing or whistling in the ear – the symptoms of tinnitus can drive sufferers crazy. But where does the ringing in the ears come from? And what effective treatments are available?

Like pain, the annoying ringing in the ears caused by tinnitus is not a disease in itself, but only a symptom. Causes include stress, noise damage (e.g., blast trauma), hearing impairment, torsional vertigo, or other organic diseases. It is not always possible to identify the trigger of the tinnitus -. It cannot always be treated successfully. If the ringing in the ears continues constantly for at least three months, the tinnitus is considered chronic.

Causes of tinnitus can be manifold

Experts suspect that faulty processing in the brain leads to the perception of the sounds. We may hear with our ears, but we understand with our brain. The sound waves are converted into electrical signals by the sensory cells (hair cells) in the inner ear and are passed on to the brain via the auditory nerve. In the auditory center the incoming nerve impulses are then filtered.

A sudden sound overprere (bang) can damage the hair cells in the inner ear. The auditory nerve reacts to this with overactivity, and in the auditory center of the brain this results in a false perception: tinnitus (in Latin: tinnitus aurium – ringing in the ears). Meniere's disease, dental problems, muscle tension or functional disorders of the cervical spine can also cause tinnitus, as can underlying internal diseases. In addition, stress and psychological problems may be causes of impaired hearing perception.

Tinnitus: Cause, tips and therapies

How to find out the cause of tinnitus? When helps which treatment? Tips from the expert. 5 min

Tinnitus diagnosis: various specialists involved

The basis for a diagnosis is a comprehensive history, that is, the medical history: How long, how and in what situations is the tinnitus experienced? How much of a burden is the noise in everyday life? For this purpose, international researchers have developed a questionnaire ( Tinnitus Handicap Inventory, English).

A thorough examination and various hearing tests by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist follow. Here the ear prere or the functionality of the ossicles (impedance measurement / tympanometry) and auditory nerve can be controlled. The better the tinnitus is localized and its severity is described, the more targeted the treatment can be. If necessary, orthopedic, orthodontic, neurological or psychological problems should be clarified.

Retraining: Getting used to ringing in the ears in four steps

One way of treatment is retraining. It is paid by health insurance companies. Under the guidance of a team of doctors and psychologists, sufferers learn how to overcome or get used to tinnitus.

Therapy consists of four components: First, one-on-one sessions to educate the sufferer about tinnitus and explain what makes the ringing in the ears worse. On the other hand, hearing training is on the agenda. You learn to consciously pay attention to environmental sounds. Third, relaxation techniques such as yoga, autogenic training, or progressive muscle relaxation are part of treatment. The fourth pillar of the retraining is behavioral therapy. The aim is to teach patients how to cope with the ringing in their ears and the associated anxiety and stress.

Music therapy helps to overcome tinnitus

Neurological music therapy according to Thaut (NMT) is also said to relieve tinnitus sounds. Both listening to music and hearing tinnitus are processed by the same brain regions. By consciously listening to special, individually modified pieces of music, the hearing is trained to overhear the unpleasant noise. A five-day intensive program is made up of a series of consecutive music and dance sessions-. Psychotherapeutic treatment modules together. After in-depth conversations, stimulate blood circulation in the head in the so-called resonance phase. For this purpose, the patient hums with a gong "around the bet". The second phase is auditory training, which is designed to distract the patient's attention from the tinnitus tones: The personal tinnitus tones are determined and played to the patient on the piano, who is then asked to sing them with his voice. It is important to match the respective tinnitus frequency as closely as possible. This is how the patient should learn to filter out unimportant auditory information.

In the next phase, relaxation training takes place: Here, the personal tinnitus tone is blended into meditative music. Thus, the sound becomes a positive listening experience for the person concerned. After therapy, the exercises learned must be performed regularly at home.

Clarify cost absorption with health insurance

Studies at the German Center for Music Therapy Research show that treatment brought significant relief in three out of four patients with chronic tinnitus and can also help with acute tinnitus. In some cases, the ringing in the ears even disappeared completely, but these were exceptions. The goal of music therapy is primarily to help sufferers live a tolerable life – despite tinnitus.

The amption of the costs of approximately 1.500 Euro is a case-by-case decision of the respective health insurance company. Before starting treatment, it is important to clarify. The effectiveness of music therapy has not yet been conclusively researched, which is why it is not recommended in the ENT Society's lead lines.

Tinnitus apps: Therapy via smartphone

There are now plenty of smartphone apps for people with tinnitus. They have the advantage of being installed on a smartphone and, like self-help books, can be conveniently used anytime and anywhere. The apps filter out the user's individual tinnitus frequency from the music, for example, or have soothing sounds and relaxation exercises in their repertoire.

In a study of 34 tinnitus apps, all worked, but none could prove their effectiveness according to scientific criteria. The German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) is currently working on regulating the ever-growing number of health apps and certifying truly helpful apps as digital health applications (DiGA), which can then also be prescribed by a doctor under certain conditions.

Hearing aids with Masker special functions

Those who wear hearing aids can also benefit from so-called masker functions that some of these devices offer. The masker produces a steady noise that is not unpleasant for the patient and covers up the tinnitus.

Cause neck tension: Exercise can help

Another approach to tinnitus treatment is based on the amption that the ringing in the ears is triggered by poor posture and the resulting tension in the cervical area. Physiotherapy with targeted stretching exercises and prere point treatment has been particularly successful when headaches or neck pain occur frequently in addition to tinnitus. An evaluation by the health insurance companies is still pending, scientific studies on this are in their infancy.

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