Tinnitus is a symptom of an underlying condition of the ears which is estimated to affect 25 million people in the United States alone. It also becomes more common the older you get.

People with tinnitus have a ringing sound in their ears. This can be one ear or both. In most cases, it is caused by an underlying issue or another identifiable event. Your audiologist can work with you to identify the cause and recommend tinnitus treatment options for you.

But what are the main causes of tinnitus?

Age-Related Hearing Loss

As you get older, the tiny hair cells in your inner ear can become bent or damaged. These move when sound waves reach your ear, sending electrical signals to your brain, which then converts then interprets these into sounds. Bent or broken hairs can trigger random electrical impulses, which results in ringing or buzzing in the ear.

Ear Infections and Earwax

If the ear canals become blocked with wax, fluid or other substances, it can cause the pressure within the ear to change, resulting in tinnitus. When the wax is removed or the infection has gone, the tinnitus symptoms will usually disappear, unless there has been further damage to the inner ear.

Injury to the Head or Neck

Trauma to the head or neck area can result in tinnitus in a number of ways. The ear could be damaged, or the brain can be affected, changing the way that it processes sound. Once your initial injury has been treated, your audiologist will be able to recommend treatments to help you deal with your tinnitus symptoms.

Exposure to Loud Noise

It’s well known that living and working in a noisy environment can cause hearing loss and tinnitus. This can occur over time, or suddenly if you are exposed to a sudden loud noise or explosion.

Lifestyle

Raised blood pressure can lead to tinnitus or the worsening of existing tinnitus symptoms. The best way to control your blood pressure is by following a healthy lifestyle and reducing excess weight, eating a good diet, exercising and reducing alcohol and tobacco. It will make a huge difference to your overall health too.

Medications

There are some prescription and over-the-counter medications that have been known to cause tinnitus as a side effect. When you visit your audiologist, bring a list of the medications you take with you.

Medical Conditions

Though it is less common, there are other medical conditions that can also cause tinnitus in an otherwise healthy ear. This can include conditions such as

  • Thyroid conditions
  • Migraines
  • Anemia
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Malformed blood vessels in the head and neck
  • Head and neck tumors
  • Meniere’s disease

As you can see from the list above, tinnitus is very common and can be caused by a number of things. If you begging to experience the symptoms of tinnitus, such as a ringing, clicking or buzzing in the ears, you should make an appointment with your audiologist as soon as possible so that you can get treatment to resolve it.

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