Tinnitus is the perception of sound that is not caused by something. Tinnitus is a condition that can cause a variety of sounds, like roaring or buzzing. Tinnitus is called bilateral tinnitus.
In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of bilateral tinnitus. Potential causes and risk factors for this condition will be discussed.
Tinnitus is a common condition that affects around 10 percent of the population. It can affect one or both ears. Tinnitus that affects both ears is bilateral tinnitus. Tinnitus that affects one ear is unilateral tinnitus.
There are several types of tinnitus.
- Subjective. Subjective tinnitus is the most common type. Only you can hear the noise in your ears, and it’s not related to external sounds.
- Objective. For this type of tinnitus, the noise can be heard by others through a stethoscope or microphone.
- Pulsatile. The tinnitus noise for this type is rhythmic and in sync with your heartbeat.
- Muscular. This tinnitus noise is rhythmic and caused by irregular contractions or spasms of muscles in or near the ear.
Tinnitus is derived from the Latin word tinnire, which means to ring. Tinnitus is commonly referred to as ringing in the ears, but the sounds caused by tinnitus vary and can include:
- It was a bit chirpy.
You will hear sounds in both ears if you have bilateral tinnitus. Tinnitus sounds can be loud or soft. They can vary in pitch and loudness.
Tinnitus sounds can come and go.
It can be difficult to live with tinnitus. Additional symptoms of bilateral tinnitus include anxiety, insomnia, and depression.
Tinnitus symptoms that may indicate an underlying cause
Some tinnitus symptoms are related to underlying causes.
- When tinnitus is accompanied by symptoms such as ear pain or drainage, the underlying cause may be a sinus or ear infection or a cholesteatoma.
- When tinnitus is accompanied by dizziness, the underlying cause may be a neurological problem or Meniere’s disease.
According to the American Tinnitus Association, tinnitus is not a disease but instead a symptom of an underlying condition. There are approximately 200 health disorders or conditions that can have bilateral tinnitus as a symptom.
Bilateral tinnitus is caused by neural circuits in the brain. Scientists are not sure why people hear noises.
The network of brain cells that interpret sound may create an illusion of sound. The hair cells in the inner ear might have been damaged.
There are causes and risk factors for bilateral tinnitus.
- Age-related hearing loss. Aging is a risk factor for tinnitus because hearing loss becomes more prevalent as people get older.
- Noise-induced hearing loss. Loud noise exposure over time can reduce hearing and increase the risk for bilateral tinnitus. Just one severe exposure to extremely loud noises can also have this effect.
- Other forms of hearing loss. Age and noise-related hearing loss are the most common causes of tinnitus, but other types of hearing loss, like irregular bone growths or a ruptured eardrum, can also cause tinnitus.
- Ototoxic medications. Ototoxic medications can damage the ear and cause hearing loss. There are over 200 prescription and over-the-counter drugs that can have this effect. They include chemotherapy drugs and salicylic pain relievers, such as aspirin.
- Disorders of the blood vessels or muscular system. Certain blood or muscular system disorders are associated with objective tinnitus.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS can cause muscular tinnitus.
- Multiple sclerosis. MS is a cause of muscular tinnitus
- Meniere’s disease. This disorder of the inner ear can cause tinnitus.
- Ear and sinus infections. Infections of the inner ear may cause tinnitus.
- Hormone changes. Hormonal changes in people assigned female at birth during times like perimenopause, menopause, and pregnancy may cause tinnitus.
- Impacted earwax buildup. A buildup of earwax may cause tinnitus.
- Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ). Disorders of the TMJ joint have been associated with tinnitus.
- Hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is a cause of pulsatile tinnitus
- Brain tumor. Brain tumors can cause tinnitus depending on their size and location.
If you’re hearing tinnitus noise, you should contact a doctor, audiologist, or ENT (ear, nose, and throat specialist).
Your doctor will ask about your health history and take your medication. They will take an oral history to find out how long you have been hearing noises.
There’s no medical test that can confirm a diagnosis of subjective tinnitus. For that reason, your description of your symptoms will be very important. An audiogram (hearing test) will be administered to check for hearing loss.
Pulsatile tinnitus is uncommon. If your doctor suspects you have this type of tinnitus, it’s important to find the underlying cause so it can be corrected.
If you hear a lot of noises, you may want to have scans to check for blood vessel problems.
The tests may include:
- Blood tests.
- A blood pressure test is done.
- The function of the thyroid.
- A high resolution computed tomography (CT) Scan.
- A procedure called angiosclerosis.
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- magnetic resonance A procedure called angiosclerosis. (MRA) to check for blood vessel issues
- ultrasound of blood vessels
It is helpful to know the root cause of bilateral tinnitus. Sometimes an easily correctable issue will be uncovered, such as an ear infection.
“If you have an ear problem, you may be given antibiotics. Earwax can be removed from the ear with a doctor’s help.”
Most cases of tinnitus do not have an easily correctable cause.
Treatments that reduce your perception of the sound of the tinnitus can be recommended if an underlying issue cannot be found or treated. You may be treated for depression or anxiety to make you better able to deal with it.
If you have hearing loss, your doctor will recommend hearing aids. Increasing your ability to hear external sound is often enough to reduce or diminish tinnitus sounds.
Hearing aids have built-in masking sounds that you can adjust. White noises, like static, and nature sounds, like waves, are included in these sounds.
“If you don’t use hearing aids, you can download relaxation and sound therapy apps that play music or sounds on your phone. Tinnitus can be worse at night if there is less noise around.”
Tinnitus sound therapy apps can help you sleep. White or pink noise machines can be used for this purpose. Fans and air purifiers can help mask the sound of ringing in the ears.
Tinnitus sound therapy uses habituation, a technique that retrains the brain to ignore tinnitus sounds. Hearing aids and audiology devices that are worn as hearing aids can be used for tinnitus sound therapy.
A sound is emitted by your device that matches the sound of the habitation. The introduced sound and the tinnitus sound start to mix.
You may have to adjust your device to make the sound sound different. Your brain learns that the noises made by tinnitus are unimportant and that you can stop using them.
Tinnitus sound therapy is very effective for many people who live with this condition.
You might also consider making an appointment with an audiologist or psychologist who specializes in tinnitus retraining therapy. Your doctor can provide recommendations for a specialist near you.
Lifestyle changes that include stress reduction can help. Tinnitus can be difficult to live with. Finding support from friends, a therapist, or a tinnitus support group can help you find balance and coping skills.
Blood pressure can be raised by drinking alcohol, smoking, and eating caffeinated beverages. Reducing or eliminating these substances may help.
“Reducing salt intake can be beneficial for reducing symptoms of tinnitus if you have Meniere’s disease or high blood pressure.”
Keeping active and remaining social can help you enjoy life.
Taking charge of your condition can be empowering. Tinnitus is being studied by many teams of researchers.
If participating in a clinical trial appeals to you, talk with your doctor or check ClinicalTrials.gov for ongoing research you may participate in.
Tinnitus is the experience of hearing sounds that are impossible to hear. Bilateral tinnitus affects both ears.
Tinnitus can be caused by many health conditions and other causes. Hearing loss and noise loss are two of the most common causes of bilateral tinnitus.
Talk to a doctor about treatments that can help you hear better.