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Tinnitus affects millions of people all over the world, but it can have many different causes. Which are the most common and why?
2019-02-18

How & Why Does Tinnitus Occur?

If you've been struggling with tinnitus, you might wonder how and why you have this condition. While there are many life experiences that can lead to tinnitus, here are a few contributing factors.

Tinnitus, characterized as a persistent ringing in the ears, affects millions of people. Tinnitus can also manifest as a high-pitched whistle, hum, or even chirping. For some, their condition is something they only notice when they actively think about it. For others, tinnitus makes it difficult to focus, relax, and even sleep.

Before tinnitus can be properly treated, the cause of the condition must be determined. Here are some of the common causes of tinnitus, and how treatment might differ between them.

Wax buildup

Blockages in the ear can cause earaches, trouble hearing, and even tinnitus. This form of tinnitus is temporary and will go away after the wax buildup has been removed. It is not recommended that you try to remove wax from your ears yourself. You could seriously damage your ears, leading to permanent hearing loss and tinnitus. A trained professional can remove blockages quickly, efficiently, and painlessly.

Noise-induced hearing loss

This is the most common cause of tinnitus worldwide. Many people across the globe have damaged hearing, especially those that have been exposed to excessive noise. Spending a lot of time around machinery, gunfire, and even loud concerts can lead to noise-induced hearing loss. There is also a large number of people that have developed hearing loss and tinnitus after exposing themselves to loud music via headphones and earbuds.

Noise-induced hearing loss often manifests itself as tinnitus. Without other sounds to drown out the ringing, the issue becomes more obvious. In these cases, the best way to move forward is to find treatment for your hearing loss. Hearing aids are more reliable than ever, and many audiologists are recommending them to those with this form of tinnitus.

Issues with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)

The temporomandibular joint is a small disk in your jaw that helps you open and close your mouth. It can be damaged or malformed for a number of reasons, including an injury to the face or neck. While TMJ refers to the actual joint, not the syndrome afflicting it, many people use this phrase to refer to any issues with the joint itself.

Along with discomfort, pain, and problems with the jaw, TMJ can also lead to tinnitus. The joint is located very close to the ear, so issues with the temporomandibular joint might manifest as tinnitus. In these cases, an audiologist might recommend that you seek help from a dentist for your TMJ syndrome. Once the root of the issue is solved, your tinnitus should lessen or disappear entirely.

Other conditions

There are many causes of tinnitus, including certain medications, other medical conditions, and even previous injury to the head.

Antidepressants, certain antibiotics, and even aspirin can cause tinnitus in some people. If these drugs are taken often, the person might not realize that the drugs are causing their tinnitus. While it might be difficult to narrow down what medication is causing your condition, the issue should resolve itself once you switch drugs. If it persists, your problem probably lies elsewhere.

Medical conditions like high blood pressure, otosclerosis, diabetes, and allergies can lead to tinnitus as well. While it might be harder to eliminate your hearing issues when they stem from an ongoing problem, treating the root issue should help with your tinnitus.

If you’ve been experiencing persistent tinnitus, it’s recommended that you seek help from an audiologist. The Signia store locator can help you find hearing care professionals in your area and provides directions and contact information for each one. Even a simple hearing test and physical exam can help determine whether your tinnitus is caused by hearing loss or blockages.