Tinnitus is a condition that is very common. It affects up to 20% of the population and has been thoroughly studied as a result of hearing loss and also as an independent condition.
Tinnitus is commonly known as a noise which is persistent or intermittent and can only be heard by the person experiencing it.
This noise can come in any number of forms, but some of the most common ways that people describe it are as a buzzing, ringing, or pulsing noise.
While there is technically no cure for tinnitus, there are many ways in which it can be treated.
Visiting an audiologist in order to receive an initial diagnosis and treatment plan is recommended.
However, there are also many other treatments, such as holistic supplements, which have proven to be effective in combating tinnitus.
Tinnitus can be an extremely disruptive experience. Especially if it is persistent, tinnitus can essentially serve to take over one’s life.
It can increase stress exponentially due to many factors. For example, tinnitus may make it difficult to interact with other people because it’s difficult to hear them or focus on what they’re saying.
Moreover, tinnitus can cause stress simply because the person experiencing it doesn’t know if and when it will stop.
Additionally, tinnitus can make it a challenge to focus on daily tasks and activities, which can not only be stressful but can also be disruptive to one’s overall productivity.
Because tinnitus can be such a debilitating condition, it has been studied at length. While there is still some mystery surrounding tinnitus, it has become clear that there are several clear-cut reasons why people may be experiencing it.
This article will cover the 10 main causes of tinnitus and discuss why you may be dealing with this condition.
What Are the Causes of Tinnitus?
Because tinnitus is so common, it’s not unexpected that it has many different causes. Some of these causes are simple and can actually be corrected quite easily.
However, some are more complex and may require lifelong treatment through the use of hearing aids or other interventions.
Some of the most common causes of tinnitus are as follows:
- Prolonged Exposure to Loud Noises: Exposure to loud noises is one of the most common causes of tinnitus. In fact, many people have experienced temporary tinnitus as a result of going to a loud concert or being exposed to another fleeting loud noise, such as gunshots. While temporary ringing in the ears may be very common, when the issue persists, that’s when it becomes a problem. Over our lifetime, many of us are exposed to loud noises on a regular basis. This prolonged exposure can cause persistent tinnitus.
- Aging: In addition, aging is another one of the most common causes of tinnitus. Presbycusis is the most common type of age-related hearing loss. It is experienced by 30-40% of the population ages 65 and older and is often accompanied by tinnitus.
- Certain Injuries: Additionally, certain injuries can cause tinnitus. Specifically, head and neck injuries can manifest in tinnitus or can make tinnitus symptoms worse. In a study conducted by Oregon Health and Service University Tinnitus Clinic, more than 12% of participants reported experiencing their tinnitus following a head or neck injury.
- TMJ Complications: Furthermore, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues can contribute to tinnitus. The TMJ connects the jaw to the skull, and it is common to have issues with it, such as clicking when closing one’s mouth. However, this strain on the jaw can have other consequences, such as tinnitus. Because this joint utilizes some of the same nerves and muscles as the ear, issues with TMJ can lead to tinnitus.
- A Buildup of Earwax: One of the simpler causes of tinnitus is a simple buildup of earwax. As earwax builds, it can serve to irritate your inner ear and eardrum, which can result in ringing in your ears. Luckily, this kind of tinnitus can typically be resolved by simple earwax removal as long as structural damage hasn’t occurred.
- Muscle Spasms: When the muscles attached to the inner ear bones spasm, this may cause tinnitus as well. Spasms can be caused by any number of factors or may have no known cause at all. However, because the muscles are attached to the inner ear, if spasms do occur, they can result in tinnitus which usually presents in-sync with the spasms themselves.
- Ear Bone Growth/Changes: In addition, certain changes in the structure of your ear bones can result in tinnitus. In particular, a condition known as otosclerosis can lead to ringing in the ears. This is a condition that is often present in younger people and is characterized by abnormal bone growth inside the ear.
- Certain Medications: Additionally, certain medications have been shown to cause tinnitus. These are known as ototoxic medications. There are many different medicines that fall into this category–from aspirin to antidepressants. If you suspect the ringing in your ears is caused by your medication, be sure to speak with a medical professional before discontinuing your use.
- Issues With Blood Vessels: Furthermore, issues with the blood vessels in your ears can cause tinnitus as well. This type of tinnitus is known as pulsatile tinnitus and is actually heard as a direct result of the blood circulating in or around your ears. Thus, pulsatile tinnitus is unique in that it is actually a result of the physical pumping of your blood rather than the perception of your brain. When the blood vessels in your ear are damaged, this can result in pulsatile tinnitus.
- Meniere’s Disease: Finally, tinnitus can be caused by something known as Meniere’s disease. This disease is fairly common and is characterized by an abnormally high level of pressure caused by fluid in the inner ear. When this fluid builds up, it can result in tinnitus.
Conclusion: Common Causes of Tinnitus
There are many different causes of tinnitus. From exposure to loud noises to a buildup of earwax, there seems to be no limit to the number of things that can result in the characteristic ringing of the ears.
However, if you are experiencing tinnitus, remember that there is hope for recovery. While there is no direct cure for tinnitus, speaking with a specialized audiologist or utilizing various other treatments, such as naturopathic supplements, can make a significant difference. Make sure you know the ingredients in your tinnitus medication.
If you or someone you care about is experiencing tinnitus, be sure not to delay in getting help. There are many different treatments available that can help you to gain control over your hearing and help you to refocus on the things that truly matter.
About The Author:
Colleen is a seasoned writer based out of Denver, Colorado with experience creating content for medical, finance, entertainment, B2B, and wellness organizations. She received her Master’s degree in English from the University at Albany and currently works for Peaks Digital Marketing.