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Educational Materials


“Buzz, buzz, buzz…” Most of us have experienced tinnitus once in a while, and are bothered by the high pitch noise. In fact, tinnitus is only a symptom. It may be a sign of nerve degeneration, malfunction of the middle ear or external ear cannel infection, which requires our attention.

External ear disorder

Common problems of the external ear cannel include accumulation of ear wax or pus, which can be removed and treated by medications.

Middle ear disorder

Common problems of the middle ear include otitis media with effusion, middle ear infection and Eustachian tube occlusion. Eustachian tube is a tube used as a connection between the nose and the ear, to balance the air pressure in the middle ear. However, upon bacterial invasion, such as those causing flu, may enter the middle ear through the Eustachian tube, causing middle ear infection.

Eustachian tube occlusion will lead to pressure changes in the middle ear, which may cause further effusion or occlusion, thus presenting the problems of tinnitus and occlusion.

However, tinnitus may be a sign of NPC. As the Eustachian tube is connected to the pharynx, tumor growth would suppress the Eustachian tube, causing effusion and occlusion. Moreover, Hong Kong has number of NPC cases than in other countries. For patients between 20-40 years of age with middle ear disorders, tinnitus and single sided middle ear effusion, there may be a chance of NPC.

ENT doctors may perform endoscopic examination, blood test for NPC antibody index and biopsy to confirm diagnosis.

Treatment of tinnitus

General middle ear infection and effusion can be treated with medications. If not, puncture of the ear drum to release the effusion may be performed, though this is rarely used. On the contrary, tinnitus caused by inner ear neurological degeneration is an aging problem, and it has no cure.

The information on this website is for general educational purpose only.
Readers should consult their physician before considering treatment, and should not interpret their condition solely based on the information above.