Ringing Noise in Ears: Tinnitus
by Ron Kurtus (revised 12 September 2017)
Tinnitus is an ailment that is a continuous, subtle buzzing or ringing noise in the ears. Often tinnitus is most obvious when you are in a quiet area. Noticing the ringing and focusing on it make it seem more annoying.
The condition can be caused by age-related hearing loss, ear injury, circulatory system disorder, or even ear wax buildup. Often the exact cause is unknown.
Medical treatment may consist of prescribed medication, as well as life-style modifications.
Questions you may have include:
- What are common causes of tinnitus?
- What are other possible causes?
- How is tinnitus treated?
This lesson will answer those questions. Health Disclaimer
A common cause of tinnitus is inner ear cell damage. This can come from age-related hearing loss, exposer to loud noises, and earwax blockage.
Age-related hearing loss
For many people, hearing worsens with age, usually starting around age 60. Stiffening of the bones in your middle ear may affect your hearing and cause tinnitus.
Exposure to loud noise
Long-term exposure to loud noises can cause permanent damage. Working in a noisy environment can cause hearing loss and increase the likelihood of tinnitus. Also, listening to MP3 players or iPods played loudly for long periods can cause noise-related hearing loss.
Tinnitus caused by short-term exposure, such as attending a loud concert, usually goes away.
Surprisingly, earwax blockage can lead to tinnitus by causing hearing loss or irritation of the eardrum. This is usually treatable by a physician.
Less common causes of tinnitus
Some causes of tinnitus that are less common include:
Tinnitus can be an early indicator of Meniere's disease, an inner ear disorder that may be caused by abnormal inner ear fluid pressure.
(See Meniere Disease for more information.)
Problems with the temperomandibular joint, the joint on each side of your head in front of your ears, where your lower jawbone meets your skull, can cause tinnitus.
(See Symptoms of TMJ Dysfunction for more information.)
Head injuries or neck injuries
Head or neck trauma can affect the inner ear. Such injuries generally cause tinnitus in only one ear.
It is often worth seeing your physician to check the underlying cause for your tinnitus. The doctors may prescribe medication that will help.
Often, tinnitus can't be treated. Some people, however, get used to it and notice it less than they did at first. For many people, certain adjustments make the symptoms less bothersome. You can try lifestyle changes to alleviate the problem. Experiment to see which changes help.
Avoid possible irritants
Reduce your exposure to things that may make your tinnitus worse. Cut back on or stop drinking alcohol and beverages containing caffeine. Also, stop smoking. Nicotine use can make tinnitus worse.
Also limit your use of aspirin or similar products.
Cover up the noise
In a quiet setting, a fan or soft music may help mask the noise from tinnitus. There are also devices that emit white-noise that could mask the sound of the tinnitus.
Tinnitus is a buzzing or ringing noise in the ears. Noticing the ringing and focusing on it make it seem more annoying. The condition can be caused by age-related hearing loss or ear injury. Often the exact cause is unknown. Medical treatment may consist of prescribed medication, as well as life-style modifications.
Take care of your health
Resources and references
Tinnitus - Mayo Clinic
Understanding Tinnitus - WebMD
Tinnitus | Causes, Types and Treatment Options - HearStore.com
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