By Sara Fawley
Most of us have heard of Tinnitus , pronounced ti-NIGHT-us or TINN-a-tus, both are correct. When we think of Tinnitus, we typically thing of “ringing in the ears”. The truth is Tinnitus can manifest in many different ways such as ringing, roaring, swishing, clicking, whistling and even in rare cases music or singing.
According to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control nearly 15% of the general public experience some form of Tinnitus. That is over 45 million Americans alone. Up to 2 million of those have extreme and debilitating cases.
Tinnitus is not a disease itself. It is a symptom of an underlying health condition. While it can be a symptom of a wide range of diseases , it is most frequently associated with some level of hearing loss.
Generally speaking, there are two forms of Tinnitus:
Subjective Tinnitus- Head or ear noise only heard by the patient. It can usually be traced to auditory and neurological reactions to hearing loss, although it can be caused by other illnesses. 99% of all reported Tinnitus cases are subjective.
Objective Tinnitus- Head or ear noises that are heard by other people as well as the patient. These sounds are usually produced by internal functions in the bodies circulatory (blood flow) and somatic (musculo- skeletal movement) systems. Objective Tinnitus is very rare. Less than 1% of all reported Tinnitus cases fall into this category.
There are three general ways to describe the patients perception of the Tinnitus:
Tonal Tinnitus: The perception of near continuous sound or over-lapping sounds. The volume can fluctuate greatly. This type of Tinnitus is associated with subjective Tinnitus.
Pulsatile Tinnitus: The perception of of pulsing sounds, often in beat with the patients own heart. This type of Tinnitus is associated with objective Tinnitus.
Musical Tinnitus: The perception of music or singing, sometimes the same song on a constant loop. This form of Tinnitus is also known as Musical Ear Syndrome and is very rare.
Tinnitus in any form can either be acute ( temporary sudden onset and sudden ceasing of symptoms) or chronic ( continuous recurring symptoms).
In most cases, Tinnitus is a sensorineural reaction in the brain to damage in the ear and auditory system. While most Tinnitus is triggered by hearing loss, there are around 200 different health disorders that can cause Tinnitus. Here is a list of some of the most common:
Middle ear obstructions such as excessive wax build-up,head congestion, loose hair from the ear canal, dirt or foreign objects. In most cases removal of the object will clear up the Tinnitus symptom.
Head and Neck Trauma- Severe injury to the head or neck can cause nerve, blood-flow and muscle issues that can cause Tinnitus.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) – The Tinnitus associated with this disease is of the somatic type of Tinnitus. The TMJ is where the lower jaw connects to the skull and is in front of the ears. Damage to the muscles, ligaments or cartilage in the TMJ can cause Tinnitus.
Sinus Pressure- Nasal congestion for a cold, flu or sinus infection can cause abnormal pressure in the middle ear causing Tinnitus symptoms.
Acute Barotrauma-This is caused by extreme or rapid changes in air or water pressure causing damage to the middle ear.
Traumatic Brain Injury- This can damage the brain’s auditory processing centers causing Tinnitus.
Ototoxic Drugs- Many prescription medications can cause temporary Tinnitus symptoms including NSAIDS, Quinie-based medications and diuretics.
This is not a complete list there are other categories of illness such as Metabolic Disorders, Auto-immune disorders and Blood-Vessel disorders that can cause Tinnitus symptoms.
What does all of this have to do with the paranormal? It is just one other possible reason for that whistling , banging, knocking, whooshing or singing you may be hearing. This is why it is so important when we hear recurring unidentified noises that we check with our doctors to rule out medical implications before going to the paranormal.