It whistles, it buzzes, it sounds, it tingles, it rings in the ears …
This is tinnitus. A problem which begins with noises in the ear and which, after becoming chronic, ends up invading the whole field of perception.
And yet, chronic tinnitus is not properly speaking an ear disease, but rather a defect in the processing of acoustic signals by the brain.
Thus the goal of a therapy will be a filtering by the brain of the perception of unwanted noises. In other words, to bring the acoustic system back on the path of normal perception.
This goal is now achievable thanks to the combination of therapeutic methods and modern technology that we can provide with THE best specialist.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a noise that can have several forms. The phenomenon occurs apparently in the ear in the absence of any external excitation.
The ear does not receive acoustic stimulation, but constantly hears annoying noises – an infernal cycle begins in the head of the victim …
‘Tinnitus’ is the medical term used to describe the perception of noises that can not be attributed to any external noise source. These noises are varied: they are tinkling, whistling, buzzing, light rustling.
Finally, they can force attention to the point where they eventually dominate all perception. A condition that considerably restricts the well-being and quality of life of those concerned.
We are talking about decompensated tinnitus.
There are many indications that the ear (cochlea) is actually the source of most ear tinnitus. At any given moment, erroneous information starts from the cochlea, passes through the auditory system before reaching the brain where it triggers a hearing loop of noises that are actually produced in the brain. Yet, this loop quickly defuses itself if the information that triggered it is of short duration.
But if the information lasts, or if the central loop is constantly revived, it can become autonomous by an effect of internal counter-reactions. It continues to function even if the brain no longer receives an erroneous signal. Different centers of the brain participate in this undue process, especially the “limbic system” which is the headquarter of our affective world.
The only center of the perception of tinnitus being finally the brain, one speaks of “centralized buzzing of the ears”.
The causes of tinnitus
When we talk about chronic tinnitus, we could say that it is, at least in part, a kind of perceptual disorder or overinterpretation in the brain. At least this opinion is currently dominant in
the medical community. It becomes an infernal circle.
The brain receives every second a multitude of impressions of our sensory organs, impressions too numerous for it to treat them all. It is therefore obliged to filter. Normally, this filtering allows it to distinguish between the important excitations and those that are not. Unimportant excitations are relegated to a lower level of treatment, below the perception threshold. You know many examples of excitement in this category: the ticking of the clock, the scratching of a sweater you wear for the first time, the purring of the refrigerator.
At their first appearance, the brain consciously perceives them, then classifies them among insignificant impressions and from then on prohibits their perception. The ticking of the clock no longer reaches the horizon of our consciousness. However, conscious perception can be re-activated – if you like, you can listen to the refrigerator’s whirring and the ticking of the clock at any time.
This ability to deal with excitations was given to us by nature and it is significant. Hearing its own swallowing noise or monotonous background noise does not bring us anything to the point of survival.
On the other hand, hearing the cracking of a branch in the forest, which is also a low noise, may be important to detect the presence of a hazard. It is therefore a question of evaluating the signals in the direction of an effective strategy for survival. It is not for nothing that hearing is a fundamentally emotional process. If we do not know a signal that appears for the first time, we value it highly and react most often by fear and tension as a preparation for a flight reaction.
Similarly for tinnitus. Their first appearance is almost always sudden and often coincides with a particular situation of stress and tension. You can not explain this noise, those who are around you can not hear it. Your reaction is fear – perhaps accompanied by resentment, because tinnitus takes away your “right to silence”. Therefore, as a sensation, tinnitus has a negative coloration.
You start to spy on them, you want to know if they are still there, if they have become stronger. You see a doctor or ask friends. Maybe you are told “… there is nothing to do, … these are warning signs of a heart attack or a cerebral embolism “or something of that sort. These answers attack or reinforce your anxieties and worries, because they do not offer a way out. You have tension without solution, negative stress. You concentrate more and more on the noise in your ears.
Tinnitus is sometimes compared with phantom pain. Sometimes the fear of spiders or “arachnophobia” is also evoked. While there are few who can imagine ghost pain (such as those who have had a leg amputated and feel pain in the leg they have lost), we all have an idea of arachnophobia. This fear also has no relation to the “objective” impulse (we are bigger than
the spider and it can not do anything to us), we acquire it (often in childhood because of the teasing of the elders) and it can grow over time. Arachnophobia is not uncommon, nor is tinnitus. For some, this phobia goes so far as to invade and spoil their existence.
Tinnitus is not a disease … Tinnitus is not a disease in the true sense of the term, but a symptom. Initially, in chronic tinnitus, this symptom has no pathological connotation per se. However, tinnitus can lead to pathology when they begin to dominate perception and open the door to a series of effects: insomnia, fear, depression, withdrawal. This is called decompensated tinnitus.
… nor the preamble of a disease. Acute tinnitus is often associated with circulatory disorders. Hence the importance of consulting a doctor quickly. But as far as chronic tinnitus is concerned, it is certified that these are not warning symptoms of a cardiac infarction or a cerebral embolism.
Nothing to worry about on the side of brain tumor and arteriosclerosis. At the first manifestation of acute tinnitus or at the first consultation for a problem of chronic tinnitus, one may wonder about the possibility of a brain tumor. It is true that there is a possibility of tumor of the acoustic nerve (acoustic neuroma) in the unilateral ear buzzing. But these tumors are extremely rare! This hypothesis can be excluded by a measurement of the auditory nerve (brainstain audiometry) or an MRI.
Tinnitus is no more a sign of arteriosclerosis.
Our hearing specialist will give you very helpful tips and will also tell you if a combination hearing aid-TCI (Tinnitus Control Instrument) is right for you.