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Top Causes of Tinnitus

Woman with Tinnitus

Did you know that tinnitus is a result of an underlying condition? Many people think that tinnitus, characterized by a ringing, buzzing, hissing or roaring sound people hear in one or both ears, is a health issue in and of itself. Tinnitus is often a result of a larger health issue that damages or harms the cells in part of the inner ear. With tinnitus, those cells send signals to the brain making individuals think they are hearing sounds or perceiving noises that aren’t actually there.

What causes tinnitus?

Many conditions can cause tinnitus. Some, like hearing loss, are very common while others, like otosclerosis (stiffening of the bones in the middle ear) are more rare.

The most common causes of tinnitus include:

  • Normal aging
  • Hearing loss
  • Exposure to loud noises, such as construction work, gunfire or loud music at a concert)
  • Medications that are known to be ototoxic, or harmful to the ears. These types of medicines include some antibiotics, anti-seizure medications, painkillers and some chemotherapy treatments).
  • Head or neck injuries
  • Certain diseases, including cardiovascular disease

Less common causes of tinnitus include:

  • Otosclerosis
  • Tumors within the auditory system
  • Blood vessels or neurologic disorders
  • Genetics or inherited inner ear disorders

How is tinnitus treated?

The cause of the tinnitus will determine the best treatment option. Often times, individuals with untreated hearing loss will notice their tinnitus symptoms disappear after being fitted with hearing aids. Other times, if the tinnitus is caused by a medication, the issue can be lessened by switching to or adding a new medication. Common treatments include:

  • Earwax removal
  • Treating a blood vessel condition
  • Changing medications
  • Hearing aids
  • Acupuncture
  • Hypnosis
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Zinc supplements
  • B vitamins

How is tinnitus managed?

Other times, tinnitus cannot be fully treated. This type of chronic tinnitus can lead to depression, anxiety and anger. As such, it is important to understand how to live with the issue. Behavioral therapies and sound masking devices can provide some relief and peace of mind for those living with “incurable” tinnitus.

Find an audiologist

If you’re suffering from tinnitus, schedule an appointment with an audiologist in your area. Tinnitus can be incredibly debilitating to more than just your hearing; it can be detrimental to your quality of life. An audiologist will be able to evaluate your symptoms, determine if you have tinnitus and offer the proper course of treatment to get the relief you deserve.