Tinnitus is a persistent noise or ringing in the ears which may be described as a sensation similar to buzzing, whistling, chirping, clicking, and other sounds. The noise in the ear may come in short bursts or it may be prolonged, varying in length of time with each individual. Each person will experience tinnitus in a unique way. The intensity of the sound will range from a low, barely audible hum only discernible when there is minimal background noise, to a loud sound quite distinct from other noise. In some cases, tinnitus sounds in sync with the rhythm of heart beats, and is referred to as pulsatile tinnitus.
According to a report by the Hearing Health Foundation, as many as 50 million Americans suffer from tinnitus, with about 16 million of them seeking medical attention due to the discomfort from the condition. Tinnitus can lead to hearing loss in 90 percent of the cases, especially in debilitating cases that interfere with daily activities. Statistics from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that about 10 percent of the entire adult population in the United States has experienced tinnitus lasting up to five minutes within the past year.
The ear is made up of three parts. The inner ear interprets sound waves, translates them to nerve messages, and sends them to the brain. The most common cause of tinnitus is prolonged exposure to very loud sounds, which leads to permanent damage to sound-sensitive cells located in the cochlea, an organ located within the inner ear. Other causes of tinnitus include the use of certain prescription medication, ear infection, neck and head injuries, allergies, thyroid issues, and cardiovascular disease. Complications from tinnitus include anxiety, insomnia, depression, and irritability, which respond favorably to the cannabidiols that are found in medical marijuana.
Loud, persistent tinnitus makes life unbearable for those afflicted with this condition, and they are often irritable and fatigued, restless, or depressed. In cases where tinnitus is loud enough, the person suffering from the condition finds it difficult to hear properly, since the buzzing within their ear tends to dominate other normal auditory reception.
Medical marijuana may help in the management of tinnitus, as suggested by a 2009 study by a leading tinnitus researcher. The study showed that auditory circuits in the brain are involved in tinnitus, and an auditory imbalance causes the constant ringing in the ears.The study involved the use of mice with tinnitus and demonstrated that the endocannabinoid system that controls brain elasticity will react favorably with medical marijuana, providing relief from tinnitus. Some the conditions that cause tinnitus may be managed with medical marijuana and complications arising from tinnitus can also be eased with the use of medical marijuana.