A little about Tinnitus
Tinnitus affects millions of people across the world. Tinnitus can be incredibly Annoying and Frustration and not only does tinnitus comes in the form of whooshing, roaring, buzzing, ringing and other sounds but it also come in the form of pulsation in rhythm of the heartbeat, this phenomenon is known as Pulsatile Tinnitus. Another form of Tinnitus that affects persons is Unilateral Pulsatile Tinnitus which causes phantom sounds pulsating rhythmically with the heartbeat ONLY in one ear.
I have had my encounter with this phantom phenomenon and as a medical physics student I have taken the mantle to learn more about this interesting phenomenon, conduct researches and keep updated on new findings, cures and solutions.
In this article you will find:
- The definition of Tinnitus, Pulsatile Tinnitus and Unilateral Tinnitus
- The causes of Tinnitus, Pulsatile Tinnitus and Unilateral Tinnitus
- Solutions for Tinnitus, Pulsatile Tinnitus and Unilateral Tinnitus
- Information on how does tinnitus affects individuals.
- Current Tinnitus Medicinal Research
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Tinnitus Vs. Pulsatile Tinnitus Vs. Unilateral Pulsatile Tinnitus
Tinnitus is the perception of varying types of sounds such as ringing, clicking, whistling and other sounds when there is no external sound is present.
Pulsatile Tinnitus is the appearance of pulsating phantom sounds resembling the heart beat in the ears. Pulsatile Tinnitus is usually referred to as bilateral Pulsatile Tinnitus because it occurs in both ears.
If you experience this type of tinnitus and it occurs only in one ear, whether left or right, then this phenomenon is known as Unilateral Pulsatile Tinnitus.
How does Tinnitus affects individuals?
For most persons Tinnitus is quite unbearable and it makes it difficult to do regular day to day activities as the sounds in their ears masks the sounds in their environment making it difficult to have a peace of mind. Tinnitus makes matters even more frustrating at night time as the sounds in the ears are even more evident and annoying and they make it incredible difficult for one to sleep, this sometimes leads to insomnia.
For others, Tinnitus travels with companions: headaches, depression, anxiety and stress. For many persons, when they worry or focus their attention on tinnitus it makes the tinnitus worse. Therefore, it’s incredibly important that persons who have tinnitus do not stress or worry too much.
On the brighter side, there are few persons who have mild cases of Tinnitus that does not affect them as it does others. In some cases, the Tinnitus may deteriorate or may be stabilized at a bearable level.
Causes of Tinnitus, Pulsatile Tinnitus and Unilateral Pulsatile Tinnitus
Causes of Tinnitus
The causes of general tinnitus are different from that of Pulsatile Tinnitus and Unilateral Pulsatile Tinnitus. There are many factors that cause tinnitus.
- The first and most obvious causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud music or noisefor an extended period of time. Environments or activities that may cause this exposure are going to concerts, using heavy loud equipments, and standing or sitting near speaker boxes during events.
- As persons age, their cochlea and other organs of their ears deteriorates and this may lead to tinnitus.
- Abnormal inner ear fluid pressure caused by Meniere’s diseasemay lead to tinnitus.
- Earwax build upmay lead to hearing loss or hearing infection which can cause tinnitus.
- Abnormal bone growthwhich leads to Stiffening of the middle ear bone (otosclerosis) can cause tinnitus.
There are also some medications that either cause tinnitus or makes it worst. These include:
- Some Antidepressants
- Cancer meds (such as vincristine and mechlorethamine )
- Antibiotics (such as vancomycin,neomycin polymyxin B and erythromycin )
- Quinine (medication for malaria)
- diuretics (water pills such as bumetanide,furosemid or ethacrynic acid )
- Aspirin (especially high doses)
Causes of Pulsatile and Unilateral Pulsatile Tinnitus
Pulsatile tinnitus is associated with the disruption of blood flow in the blood vessels in the head and neck region, this result in turbulent blood flow which can be heard in the ear. Here are some common causes of Pulsatile Tinnitus:
- Arteriovenous malformation (AVM)– a condition in which there is malfunctioning of the capillaries and abnormal connections between arteries and veins, can result in Tinnitus. (mainly occurs with Unilateral Pulsatile Tinnitus)
- Atherosclerosis – Blood vessels close to middle and inner ear lose their elasticity due to build up of cholesterol and other deposits. This makes it more difficult for the blood vessels to flex or extend with each heartbeat, resulting in more turbulent blood flow and thus the sound of the heart beat is usually detected in ears.
- Neck or head Injuries – This can affect the nerves, inner ear and brain functions leading to tinnitus. (mainly occurs with Unilateral Pulsatile Tinnitus)
- Head and neck tumors– When the tumor presses on blood vessels in your head or neck this can cause Pulsatile Tinnitus.
- Acoustic neuroma (or vestibular schwannoma)-A benign (noncancerous) tumor that grows on the cranial nerve which stretches from the brain to the inner ear. (mainly occurs with Unilateral Pulsatile Tinnitus).
- Twisted arteries– When arteries are twisted in the head or neck this leads to turbulent blood flow and thus Pulsatile Tinnitus.
- Venous Hum – Increased blood flow in the jugular vein that may be turbulent which traverse in the middle ear can lead to Pulsatile Tinnitus. This usually occurs in anemic, thyroid patients or pregnant individuals.
What are researchers saying or doing about tinnitus?
One really interesting study was one done by Autifony. The Autifony Tinnitus research included clinical testing on rat models. The rats were exposed to noise of a specific frequency which induced tinnitus. After a 30 days period the rats were administered a Kv3.1 positive modulator which was found to suppress tinnitus and is considered a possible treatment for tinnitus. This is only a phase 1 testing though, more tests are upcoming.
The key to finding solutions to tinnitus is to know what makes your tinnitus worst/causes it so you can avoid those factors. As knowing those root causes and applying the solutions will help you to uproot and eliminate the source of your tinnitus. Just as important, is the knowledge of what makes your tinnitus better, this will help to suppress and drastically improve your tinnitus.
- Persons with Tinnitus should avoid certain foods that make Tinnitus worst and eat others that makes it better.
- Persons with Tinnitus should avoid factors that makes tinnitus worst, these includes: drinking caffeinated beverages, drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, Stress and Fatigue
- Persons with Tinnitus can visit Tinnitus Treatment Centers for Expert advice. For persons with Pulsatile Tinnitus, head and neck examinations using imaging techniques may be necessary to determine the root cause.
- Persons with Tinnitus should avoid areas with load music. If you are in an area where you simply cannot avoid loud noises you should get noise suppression headphones and ear plugs.