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8 Things That Cause Tinnitus

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Buzz... Ring...Buzz... Ring... Hearing that ringing in your ears? Can no one else hear it?

According to Medical News Today (MNT), you might be suffering from tinnitus and you are not alone! Nearly 15% of the American population suffers from some form of the condition.

WHAT IS TINNITUS, YOU ASK?

Tinnitus is consciously hearing a sound that is not generated by any source outside the body. It is not a disease, but a symptom, and underlying problem.

"In almost all cases, tinnitus is a subjective noise, meaning that only the person who has tinnitus can hear it," MNTsays. "The most common form of tinnitus is a high-pitched steady ringing. Although tinnitus can be annoying, it is not usually a sign of anything more serious."

The most common cause of the "ringing" is damage and loss of the sensory hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear. 

However, there are other causes of tinnitus according to Medical News Today and the American Tinnitus Association.

  • Loud noises
  • Earwax buildup
  • Ear infections and allergies
  • Medications
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
  • Stiffening of the middle ear bones
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Ototoxic Drugs
  • Diabetes

8 CAUSES FOR TINNITUS

1. LOUD NOISE

Exposure to loud noise, whether it is frequent or infrequent, is one of the most common causes of tinnitus. People who work with loud machinery or who listen to loud music are at a higher risk for the condition.

2. EAR WAX BUILD UP OR EAR INFECTIONS

EXCESSIVE EARWAX OR BLOCKAGES IN THE EAR CANAL CAN CAUSE TINNITUS. THIS BUILD-UP CAN CAUSE PRESSURE TO INCREASE IN THE INNER EAR, AFFECTING THE OPERATION OF THE EAR DRUM.

Moreover, objects directly touching the eardrum can irritate the organ and cause perception of tinnitus symptoms. These objects can change the pressure and how the eardrum vibrates. 

COMMON OBSTRUCTIONS INCLUDE:

  • Excessive ear wax (ceruminous)
  • Head congestion
  • Loose hair from the ear canal
  • Dirt or foreign objects

The removal of the blockage will alleviate tinnitus symptoms. However, in some situations, the blockage may have caused permanent damage that leads to chronic tinnitus.

3. MEDICATIONS

Tinnitus could be a side effect of taking prescription or non-prescription medications that relieve existing symptoms, illness, disorders or conditions. 

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4. STRESS, FATIGUE, ANXIETY, AND DEPRESSION

A study in the Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment journal said,

“Stress can be considered as a factor leading to damage and dysfunction of the auditory apparatus.”

CHECK OUT OUR BLOG STRESS OR FEAR CAN AFFECT YOUR EARS TO LEARN MORE!

5. HEAD, NECK OR JAW INJURIES

It is possible that the head, neck or jaw injuries may cause tinnitus. Tinnitus from the neck is called cervicogenic somatic tinnitus. Another example of neck or jaw problems is temporomandibular joint disorder or TJD. 

According to the American Tinnitus Association, severe injury to the head or neck can cause nerve, blood flow, and muscle issues that result in the perception of tinnitus. Patients suffering from this trauma often report a higher tinnitus volume.

Tinnitus related to head, neck, or dental issues is sometimes referred to as somatic tinnitus.

DID YOU KNOW? “Somatic” derives from the Greek somatikos, meaning “of the body.”

6. EAR INFECTIONS AND ALLERGIES

Ear infections can be the cause tinnitus. This can happen when a cold, throat infection or allergies causes trapped fluid in the middle ear. 

7. EXCESS SMOKING AND ALCOHOL

This is interesting... right?

Excessive drinking may cause short-term tinnitus! Studies have found alcohol consumption makes your blood vessels swell, causing greater blood flow in the inner ear which can lead to ringing or tinnitus. Similarly, smoking can narrow the blood vessels that deliver oxygen to cells in the ears, triggering tinnitus. 

8. SINUS PRESSURE AND BAROMETRIC TRAUMA

The ATA says nasal congestion from a severe cold, flu, or sinus infection can create abnormal pressure in the middle ear, impacting normal hearing and causing tinnitus symptoms.

Acute barotrauma that is caused by extreme or rapid changes in air or water pressure can also damage the middle and inner ear. 

Possible sources of barotrauma include:

  • Diving / Snorkeling / Scuba
  • Flying (only during extreme, abnormal elevation changes; normal commercial air travel is generally safe)
  • Concussive explosive blasts

ATA'S LIST OF OTHER DISEASES & MEDICAL CONDITIONS CAUSING TINNITUS

  • Tinnitus is a reported symptom of the following medical conditions:
  • Metabolic Disorders: Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism, Anemia
  • Autoimmune Disorders: Lyme Disease, Fibromyalgia
  • Blood Vessel Disorders: High Blood Pressure, Atherosclerosis
  • Psychiatric Disorders: Depression, Anxiety, Stress
  • Vestibular Disorders: Ménière's Disease, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Otosclerosis
  • Tumor-Related Disorders (very rare): Acoustic Neuroma, Vestibular Schwannoma, other tumorous growths 
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