i'm hoping someone could possibly give me advice about medical symptoms concerning my husband. He has been complaining for the past nine years about constant ringing of the ears and says although sometimes mild, he always suffers from headaches. He also has trouble sleeping at night because of the headaches and the constant ringing in his ears. He was involved in 3 automobile accidents (not at fault) that gave him concusions. Could this be the reason he suffers from these symptoms or does this sound like a serious medical problem?
Yes, it sounds like there is some cranial nerve involvement, probably due more to the acoustic nerve cn8, which is consistant with a head injury. It also sounds like an acoustic neuroma. Info on both is provided below. Please read both copy this info and bring it to whoever you decide to see..
What is an acoustic neuroma?
An acoustic neuroma is a tissue growth that arises on the eight cranial nerve. The eighth cranial nerve sends information to the brain from the inner ear. One part of this nerve transmits hearing information and the other part sends balance information. It is in a tiny canal, called the internal auditory canal that acoustic neuromas usually begin and grow from a sheath that surrounds the eight cranial nerve. The seventh or "facial" nerve, which is concerned with facial movement, also passes through this canal, as do important blood vessels.
The cause of acoustic neuromas is unknown. In a small percentage of individuals with bilateral acoustic neuromas there is often a hereditary factor involved.
More women than men are affected.
there is not a typical pattern of symptoms caused by a developing acoustic neuroma, thus making early diagnosis a challenge.
Acoustic neuromas usually grow very slowly, sometimes over a period of many years. The neuroma first distorts the eighth nerve, then affects the seventh nerve. As it enlarges, the tumour presses on adjacent nerves such as the fifth (or "trigeminal") nerve, which is the nerve associated with facial sensation, and on other parts of the brain. This causes more intense symptoms. The neuroma can go on to damage a portion of the brain needed to maintain life.
Ninety percent of people experience one-sided hearing loss, often accompanied by tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Loss of hearing may be gradual or sudden. There may be a feeling of fullness in the ear.
Unsteadiness and/or dizziness can be early symptoms, due to involvement of the balance portion of the eight cranial nerve. However, the nervous system adapts quite well to the
gradual loss of function of that nerve, so these symptoms are usually mild or non-existent initially. As the tumour presses on other facial nerves and tissue, numbness and facial tightening may be felt consistently or intermittently. Large tumours that cause pressure on the cerebellum or brain stem may cause difficulty with balance, headaches, facial nerve spasm and aching in and around the ear.
Any of these symptoms should be thoroughly investigated.
Treatment of acoustic neuroma
an acoustic neuroma is a benign tumour and the only cure is removal of the tumour by surgery. This is a complex and delicate process. Sometimes the tumour's growth pattern and necessary manipulation during removal affect nearby cranial nerves and brain stem. There may be problems after surgery related to the cranial nerves affected by the tumour, which may or may not have been present before the tumour was removed. In general, the smaller the tumour at the time of surgery, the less chance of complications.
Most surgery is performed on people between the ages of 30 and 60.
It is essential that you speak to your doctor about all of these matters.
Please contact h.E.A.R. Service for information about a self-help group known as the acoustic neuroma association of australasia.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a ringing, swishing, or other type of noise that seems to originate in the ear or head. In many cases it is not a serious problem, but rather a nuisance that may in time go away. It is not a single disease, but a symptom of an underlying condition. Nearly 36 million americans suffer from this disorder. In almost all cases, only the patient can hear the noise.
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus can arise in any of the four sections of the ear: the outer ear, the middle ear, the inner ear, and the brain. Some tinnitus or head noise is normal. If for example, one goes into a sound proof booth and normal outside noise is diminished, one becomes aware of these normal sounds. We are usually not aware of these normal body sounds, because outside noise "masks" them. Anything, such as wax or a foreign body in the external ear, that blocks these background sounds will cause us to be more aware of our own head sounds. Fluid, infection, or disease of the middle ear bones or ear drum (tympanic membrane) can also cause tinnitus.
One of the most common causes of tinnitus is damage to the microscopic endings of the hearing nerve in the inner ear. Advancing age is generally accompanied by a certain amount of hearing nerve impairment, and consequently tinnitus. Loud noise exposure is a very common cause of tinnitus today, and it often damages hearing as well. Unfortunately, many people are unconcerned about the harmful effects of excessively loud noise, firearms, and high intensity music. Some medications (aspirin, for example) and other diseases of the inner ear (meniere's syndrome) can cause tinnitus. Tinnitus can in rare situations be a symptom of such serious problems as an aneurysm or a brain tumor (acoustic tumor).
How is tinnitus evaluated?
A medical history, physical examination, and a series of special tests can help determine precisely where the tinnitus is originating. It is helpful for the doctor to know if the tinnitus is constant, intermittent or pulsating (synchronous with the heart beat), or is it associated with hearing loss or loss of balance (vertigo). At the very least, all patients with persisting unexplained tinnitus need a careful hearing test (audiogram). Certain patterns of hearing loss may lead the doctor to the diagnosis.
Other tests, such as the auditory brain stem response (abr), a computerized test of the hearing nerves and brain pathways, computer tomography (ct) or, magnetic resonance imaging (mri) may be needed to rule out a tumor occurring on the hearing or balance nerve. These tumors are rare, but they can cause tinnitus.
What is the treatment of tinnitus?
After a careful evaluation, your doctor may find an identifiable cause and be able to treat or make recommendations to treat the tinnitus. Once you have had a thorough evaluation, an essential part of treatment is your own understanding of the tinnitus, i.E., what has caused it, and your options for treatment.
In many cases, there is no specific treatment for tinnitus. It may simply go away on its own, or it may be a permanent disability that the patient will have to "live with." some otolaryngologists have recommended niacin to treat tinnitus. However, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that niacin helps reduce tinnitus, and it may cause problems with skin flushing.
Is there anything to do to lessen intensity of the tinnitus?
It is important to realize that the hearing system is one of the most delicate and sensitive mechanisms in the body. Since it is a part of the general nervous system, it is sensitive, to some degree, by anything that affects the overall health of the individual (both physical and psychological). Therefore, in order to lessen the intensity of tinnitus, it is advisable to make every effort to:
avoid exposure to loud sounds and noises.
Control blood pressure.
Decrease salt intake.
Avoid nerve stimulants such as coffee and colas (caffeine) and tobacco (nicotine).
Try to stop worrying about the tinnitus. Often times, the more you worry and concentrate on the noise, the louder it will become.
Get adequate rest and avoid fatigue.
Utilize masking noise. Tinnitus is usually more bothersome when the surroundings are quiet, especially when you are in bed. A competing sound such as a ticking clock or a radio may help mask tinnitus. Small hearing aid like devices which generate a competitive sound may help reduce the awareness of the tinnitus.
Biofeedback may help or diminish tinnitus in some patients.
Hearing aids may help some patients with hearing loss and tinnitus. However a trial before purchase is advisable.
Avoid aspirin or aspirin products.
Tinnitus at a glance
tinnitus is abnormal ear noise.
Tinnitus can arise in any of the four sections of the ear: the outer ear, the middle ear, the inner ear, and the brain.
Persisting unexplained tinnitus is evaluated with a hearing test (audiogram).
Measures can be taken to lessen the intensity of tinnitus.