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Dr. Jill Gordon
Celebrating 30 Years

14 Causes of Tinnitus

Tinnitus Sufferer

There are many reasons tinnitus may develop but, annoying as it is, the cause is rarely serious. However, it’s best to get checked out by an audiologist to see if an underlying trigger can be identified. Here’s an idea of the possible causes, with some of the more serious reasons happily being rare.

#1: Earwax

Starting with the simple stuff, an ear canal choked with wax causes peculiar acoustics resulting in tinnitus.

#2: Ear infections

Hot, painful or itchy ears? An infection in the canal, middle or inner ear can trigger tinnitus in some people

#3: Hearing loss

When everyday sounds become muffled, it’s easier to hear phantom sounds (tinnitus) in your head. A hearing test with an audiologist gives a quick answer for this one.

#4: Otosclerosis

Unusual bone deposits in the delicate inner ear can cause tinnitus. This condition tends to run in families

#5: Meniere’s disease

Changes in the pressure of the fluid system in the inner ear can cause a variety of symptoms of which tinnitus can be an early sign, progressing on to balance problems and headaches.

#6: Jawbone joint problems

Problems linked to the joint that hinges the jawbone to the skull can cause symptoms including tinnitus.

#7: Head and neck injuries

A blow or trauma to the head and neck can cause inflammation of the nerves, which results in tinnitus.

#8: Nerve disease

Occasionally, a rare non-cancerous tumor can affect the nerve connecting the ear to the brain, interfering with the messages it sends and causing the sufferer to hear phantom noises.

#9: Clogged arteries

If the tiny blood vessels running through the inner ear become clogged with cholesterol, the symptoms can include hearing loss or tinnitus.

#10: High blood pressure

Raised blood pressure forces blood under high pressure through the vessels. This is sometimes audible to the sufferer as a whooshing sound in the ears.

#11: Awkward head position

Sleeping with your neck at an odd angle can kink the major blood vessels to the head. This causes turbulent blood flow, which you may hear as tinnitus.

#12: Medication side effects

Some medications induce tinnitus as a side effect. Happily, when the medication stops usually so do the symptoms. Your doctor will carefully discuss the risks when starting any new medication. If you develop tinnitus as a result, let the physician know immediately, so they can advise you on what to do next.

#13: Being male

Unfortunately, males are at higher risk of developing tinnitus than females. This doesn’t mean that woman never have tinnitus, just not as often as men.

#14: Exposure to loud noises

Last but not least, loud noises can damage the inner ear and set up the ringing we associate with tinnitus. Be especially careful when listening to music via headphones or earplugs, and always protect your hearing with ear defenders when in a noisy environment, be that a rock concert or the work place.