10 Reasons You Have Ringing In Your Ears

Oct 01, 2023
misc image
Ringing in the ears (tinnitus) can range from an occasional annoyance to a persistent and debilitating experience. Uncovering and treating the cause may eliminate the noise or, at least, reduce its effects on your daily routine.

Tinnitus is a common condition affecting millions of people in the United States. Unfortunately, the cause of these phantom noises, which can range from ringing to buzzing to humming, is sometimes hard to decipher.

Philip T. Ho, MD, FACS, and his team at Silicon Valley ENT & Sinus Center in Los Gatos, California, specialize in accurately diagnosing and treating conditions like tinnitus.

Read more from Dr. Ho’s team about what might be causing that uncomfortable ringing in your ears.

Understanding the effects of tinnitus

Tinnitus is a complex condition with a myriad of potential causes. For instance, temporary episodes lasting a week or less may be related to allergies or sinus infections. In this case, the symptoms often fade once the underlying condition is treated.

Unfortunately, tinnitus may also become chronic and interfere with sleep, hearing, and your ability to concentrate. During your evaluation, Dr. Ho performs a series of diagnostic studies to understand the cause of your tinnitus and develops a treatment strategy that may not cure the condition but could lessen its effects on your overall well-being.

Potential causes of tinnitus

Common causes of tinnitus include:

1. Hearing loss

One of the most common causes of tinnitus is hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss or noise-induced damage to the inner ear can lead to tinnitus. When the hair cells in the cochlea get damaged, they can misfire, leading to the perception of sounds that aren't there.

2. Exposure to loud noises

Short-term exposure to loud events like concerts or explosions can cause temporary tinnitus. On the other hand, chronic exposure to high volumes, such as that experienced by factory workers or musicians, can lead to permanent tinnitus and hearing loss.

3. Earwax buildup

While earwax helps protect the ear canal, excessive buildup can cause hearing loss or irritation of the eardrum, which might lead to tinnitus.

4. Ear or sinus infections

Certain ear, nose, and throat conditions, including infections, can cause fluid buildup and pressure within the ear, causing tinnitus. Once the infection is treated, the ringing often subsides but can become chronic without treatment.

5. Medications

Some medicines can cause tinnitus as a side effect. These include certain antibiotics, diuretics, aspirin (in high doses), and some chemotherapy drugs. Always consult with a health care provider if you believe your medication might be causing tinnitus.

6. Meniere's disease

Meniere’s is an inner ear condition related to fluid buildup and changing pressure in the ear. It can cause episodes of disabling vertigo along with ringing in the ears.

7. TMJ disorders

The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are on either side of your head, just in front of the ears. Problems with these joints can cause tinnitus.

8. Blood vessel damage

Hypertension, atherosclerosis, and other conditions that affect blood vessel health can cause tinnitus by increasing the force with which blood flows through arteries.

9. Acoustic neuroma

Acoustic neuroma is a noncancerous tumor that develops on the cranial nerve connecting the brain to the inner ear. Symptoms of an acoustic neuroma include balance problems, one-sided hearing loss, and tinnitus.

10. Chronic disease

Diabetes, thyroid disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, and other chronic conditions can also trigger tinnitus.

For expert help with ENT conditions like tinnitus, schedule an evaluation at Silicon Valley ENT & Sinus Center today. Call the office or request an appointment online.