Tinnitus is an indication of problems in the sound-processing system and can be linked to a range of very different disease patterns. Most tinnitus sufferers are also hard of hearing.
Identifying physiological factors
Aside from damage to the auditory system, tinnitus can also be caused by jaw joint dysfunction (e.g. teeth grinding) and chronic neck muscle strain.
Although stress is the single most commonly quoted cause of tinnitus, there is no scientific basis for assuming a connection between stress and tinnitus to date. But tinnitus can cause stress. Noises are perceived more acutely when a person is tense.
Some medications can set off tinnitus. Once medication is stopped, the noises usually disappear again, too. But certain medicines can cause irreparable damage, which can result in permanent tinnitus.
Because tinnitus is perceived differently by each sufferer, an exact diagnosis is essential. The first step: establishing whether the case can be medically treated or not. To do this, your doctor may conduct ENT, dental, orthodontic and orthopedic examinations. The pitch and volume of the tinnitus can be determined by special diagnostic tests, and a hearing test can reveal whether hearing loss is also involved.
Tinnitus is identifiable: brain scans indicate increased metabolic activity in the region of the left auditory cortex in tinnitus patients, suggesting that tinnitus is not exclusively related to the ear.