Last Updated on May 3, 2021 by Maxwell Harris
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus, also popularly known as ringing in the ears, is the perception or awareness of sound that isn’t present in the environment. This means that someone hears a sound that doesn’t physically exist. The sounds are usually ringing in the ears, buzzing, hissing, roaring, or chirping. Sometimes, it can present itself in the form of musical tones. Tinnitus usually occurs either intermittently or continuously. The sounds can be loud and sometimes soft.
In some cases, tinnitus can occur in one ear and others in both. The non-auditory sound can also be low or high pitched. Sometimes tinnitus can be coupled with total hearing loss. Tinnitus is a common issue affecting a quarter of the population in America at one point in their lives.
What are the causes of tinnitus?
There are many causes of tinnitus. Below are the main ones;
- Damage to the inner or middle ear- this is the primary and most common cause of tinnitus. The middle year is in charge of picking up sound waves. The sound waves are then conducted, prompting the middle ear to transmit electric impulses to the brain. Naturally, you hear the sound after the brain has accepted and translated the signals into meaningful sounds. When there are damages to the middle ear, it can affect the overall approach or process causing tinnitus. Damages to parts like the tiny bones in the inner ear or eardrums can also significantly affect how sound is conducted before it is sent to the brain. This may result in tinnitus. Some of these damages can be caused by wearing hearing aids. However, hearing aids can also be used to treat tinnitus.
- Tumor- the presence of a tumor in the auditory nerve can lead to ringing in the ear or both. If the cancer is inside the ear, it may also cause the same problem.
- Working with heavy equipment- people working with heavy tools like chainsaws and jackhammers are prone to getting tinnitus. Depending on how long you work with these tools, you can end up with temporary or persistent tinnitus.
- Loud music- listening to loud music using headphones, earphones, or concerts can also lead to temporary tinnitus.
- Medical conditions- medical issues like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Meniere’s disease symptoms can also result in tinnitus.
Other causes of tinnitus, like other hearing disorders, are excess ear wax, head and neck injuries, ear infections, and certain medications. These are triggers that can disrupt the standard nerve signals traveling through the hearing pathway.
Treatment of tinnitus
The treatment for tinnitus, unlike regular hearing problems, depends on its specific underlying cause. For instance, if a medication is causing the issue, the treatment would be to stop taking medicine or switch it. Additionally, if hearing aids are the cause, the treatment would be to do away with them permanently or temporarily. Therefore, the first thing a physician or doctor does when a person with tinnitus is to find out the underlying cause. This can be done through imaging or medical testing. However, the challenge is that it is hard to determine the cause of tinnitus most of the time. In such situations, doctors prefer to reduce the symptoms because they cannot eliminate it. There has been some talk about CBD being used as a treatment for tinnitus.
What is CBD?
CBD, known in full as cannabidiol, is a chemical compound extracted from the cannabis plant. CBD is usually extracted from the flowers, leaves, or buds of the plant known as hemp. Eventhouh hemp is a type of cannabis, CBD oil will not get you high. This is because it does not contain high (or sometimes any) THC. THC is the compound found in marijuana that causes euphoria.
CBD is usually made into a wide range of CBD products like oil, gels, sprays, and tinctures. In recent years, CBD products have increased in popularity. Cannabis products are mainly trendy in the wellness industry. The popularity of CBD or cannabis products, particularly the oil, in this industry can be liked directly to the claims that it can help manage conditions such as; anxiety, depression, insomnia, other mental health challenges, and tinnitus.
Cannabis or CBD oil for tinnitus
Studies have shown that the main receptors of the endocannabinoid system – CB1 and CB2, respond well to CBD. These two receptors also play a role in hearing. This is the main reason why scientists developed an interest in CBD oil as a treatment for tinnitus and other hearing disorders.
Another reason why researchers have taken an interest in using CBD or cannabis oil as a treatment for tinnitus and hearing issues is that there is some evidence that tinnitus is caused by overactivity in the brain. There is a lot of research supporting the claims that CBD can help treat an overactive brain (cause of tinnitus and other hearing problems). This is the main reason why cannabinoids are used to treat conditions like ADHD and seizures. CBD (cannabidiol) works by changing the activity of the CB1 receptor in the brain hence triggering the release of chemicals like GABA. GABA has a calming effect on the brain since it slows down the firing of neurons. Therefore, researchers claim that CBD oil can be used to treat tinnitus by calming down brain activity.
Some studies also indicate that CBD can be used as a treatment for tinnitus’s side effects by modulating serotine receptors in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps control your emotions, feelings, and mood. Low levels of serotonin result in depression and anxiety. Therefore, CBD helps promote the efficient breakdown of serotonin hence preventing these mental issues.
It is also worth noting that people suffering from tinnitus and other hearing challenges also suffer a lot of mental stress. People suffering from tinnitus also suffer depression, insomnia, social isolation, other hearing difficulties, and anxiety. Therefore, CBD may come in handy as a stress reliever and solution for most mental conditions caused by tinnitus. There is a lot of scientific evidence that CBD oil can help relieve mental stress because it calms the body and mind. CBD is a stress reliever.
However, some studies suggest that CBD oil can worsen tinnitus and hearing challenges instead of treating it. This speaks to the fact that there are mixed results in these studies about CBD as a treatment for tinnitus and other hearing problems. Therefore, note that there is a lack of ample information on whether CBD is a good or ill solution to this hearing disorder.
How to use CBD oil to treat tinnitus
You can use the CBD orally through smoking or vaping. You can also take the oil sublingually. However, while these CBD oils can be applied topically, you do not need to put the CBD in your ears.
Side effects of using CBD to treat tinnitus
When dealing with CBD, most of the time, the side effects vary from one person to another. It all depends on your body and how it takes to the oil. Additionally, the amount of CBD or oil you use and how your body reacts also differs from one person to the next. It is also worth noting that CBD has numerous side effects. The known CBD side effects are diarrhea, drowsiness, fatigue, and dry mouth.
Tinnitus is a common condition which scientists refer to as a symptom and not a medical condition. The causes of tinnitus are numerous, and most of the time, it is hard to pinpoint a specific one. For this reason, there isn’t a particular solution to the tinnitus in terms of medication or procedure. The best thing to do, if you suffer from tinnitus, is to visit a doctor. Do not rush to self medicate with CBD or any other oil or products. Doing this can make the tinnitus worse or lead to hearing loss. This is mainly because there are mixed reviews about the effects of CBD on people with tinnitus.