This week in the UK (3-9 February) is Tinnitus Week. Here at the Good Health Centre in Leeds, we want to do our bit to raise awareness about this often-isolating symptom that affects about 30% of people at some time or another in their lives.
WHAT IS TINNITUS?
Tinnitus is the symptom of an underlying condition affecting the auditory system, and is often characterised by a persistent ringing, whistling or buzzing in the ear or ears. It is not actually a problem with the ear itself, but points to an underlying condition that affects the way the brain is able to process auditory information. Tinnitus can affect people of any age, including young children. Oftentimes it will go away over time, but approximately 13% of people will suffer with the symptoms long-term.
WHAT CAUSES TINNITUS?
Tinnitus is not a disease or illness, but is rather a symptom relating to some type of mental or physical change. They can include:
- Jaw problems of misalignment
- Glue ear
- Ear infections
- Exposure to loud noise
- Stress and anxiety
- Head trauma
Many of these potential causes are, at their root, an interruption to the amount and clarity of information being sent from the ear to the brain. The brain responds by trying to get more information from the ear, and the extra information sent is the sound we call tinnitus.
WHAT COULD WE DO TO TRY AND HELP TO RELIEVE IT?
Most tinnitus will go away once the underlying condition has resolved, such as the ear infection has cleared up. Depending on the cause of your tinnitus, there are several ways osteopathy might be able to help relieve your symptoms.
- If your tinnitus has been caused by temporomandibular (jaw) dysfunction, easing tension in the muscles around the jaw and improving the movement pattern of the joint could help alleviate symptoms.
- Glue ear is a condition whereby the Eustachian tubes fill with fluid rather than air, usually due to an infection. Our osteopaths will work on the affected temporal bone and the muscles and tissues around the Eustachian tube, which could resolve the problem and associated tinnitus.
- Tinnitus brought on by head trauma could be relieved with a programme of cranial osteopathy, which gently targets stresses held within the tissues covering the skull.
- Tinnitus brought on by stress or anxiety could be improved by osteopathic treatment aimed at improving respiratory function and rebalancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems that are so vital for healing.
- In our experience, tinnitus due to damage to delicate hair cells in the ear as a result of exposure to loud noise does not respond well to osteopathic treatment.
BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
Think you might be suffering from tinnitus? Book an appointment with one of our osteopaths today.