What Causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is often linked with stress, exposure to loud noises, some form of hearing loss, Ménière’s disease, conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disorders or multiple sclerosis, anxiety or depression, taking certain medication – Tinnitus can be a side effect of some chemotherapy medicines, antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and aspirin.

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loud noises
Tinnitus can affect your lifestyle.

Exposure to loud noise.

Hair cells can be damaged by exposure to loud noises, which could lead to tinnitus. This can occur gradually as a result of exposure to noises over prolonged periods or may be caused by exposure to louder noises over a shorter period of time. If you are exposed to loud noises you should always wear ear protection. The average person is born with about 16,000 hair cells within their cochlea. These cells allow your brain to detect sounds. Up to 30% to 50% of hair cells can be damaged before changes in your hearing can be measured by a hearing test.
Most of us have been exposed to loud noise at some point in our lives. Sometimes we expose ourselves to loud music for example deliberately when we are younger for enjoyment!
Unfortunately, noise pollution is everywhere and can cause serious long term damage to our hearing system. Exposure to loud noises can also cause high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep disturbances, and stress according to many experts.
In the long run, we can develop tinnitus if we are exposed to loud noise especially over prolonged periods of time.

Ear Infections.

Middle ear infections can cause hearing loss and tinnitus. Symptoms will normally be temporary, but it is important to have the underlying infection treated by a doctor. Most middle ear infections occur when an infection such as a cold, leads to a build-up of mucus in the middle ear and causes the Eustachian tube.
This means mucus can’t drain away properly, making it easier for an infection to spread into the middle ear.
The area behind the eardrum can become inflamed due to a virus or bacteria. According to the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, middle ear infections occur in 80 percent of children by the time they reach age 3. Most middle ear infections go away without any medication but if the pain is ongoing, you should see a doctor.

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Ear wax removal.

Ear wax build-up.

Depending on the individual, ear wax can build-up over time and cause tinnitus.
Some people regularly get blocked ears because they naturally produce a lot of earwax. Other factors that can increase the risk of too much earwax include:  producing naturally hard or dry earwax, having narrow or hairy ear canals, being elderly, as earwax becomes drier with age, bony growths in the outer part of the ear canal. Earwax can also block your ear if you frequently insert objects into your ear canals, such as cotton buds or earplugs.

Personally, I have had ear wax build-up since I was a child. I am not advocating my mothers methods of dealing with my ear wax build-up but I do remember warm olive oil drops as I was lying on my side and gentle massage around my ear lobes. Later on in life, Good multivitamins, vitamin c with zinc has helped me a lot. Also, going to a warmer climate at least twice a year has reduced the ear wax a lot.

Ménière’s Disease.

A rare disorder affecting the inner ear, Ménière’s disease can cause tinnitus, hearing loss, and pressure in the inner ear, but it is usually accompanied by vertigo.
Ménière’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that is characterized by episodes of feeling like the world is spinning (vertigo), ringing in the ears (tinnitus), hearing loss, and a fullness in the ear.
Typically, only one ear is affected initially; however, over time both ears may become affected.
Ménière’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that is characterized by episodes of feeling like the world is spinning (vertigo), ringing in the ears (tinnitus), hearing loss, and a fullness in the ear. Usually, only one ear is affected initially; however, over time both ears may become involved. Episodes generally last from 20 minutes to a few hours. The time between episodes varies. The hearing loss and ringing in the ears can become constant over time.
The cause of Ménière’s disease is unclear but likely involves both genetic and environmental factors. A number of theories exist for why it occurs including constrictions in blood vessels, viral infections, and autoimmune reactions.
About 10% of cases run in families. Symptoms are believed to occur as the result of increased fluid build up in the labyrinth of the inner ear. Diagnosis is based on the symptoms and, frequently, a hearing test. Other conditions that may produce similar symptoms include vestibular migraine and transient ischemic attack.
A cure does not exist presently. Attacks are often treated with medications to help with nausea and anxiety. Measures to prevent attacks are overall poorly supported by the evidence. A low-salt diet, diuretics, and corticosteroids may be tried.
Physical therapy may help with balance and counseling may help with anxiety. Injections into the ear or surgery may also be tried if other measures are not effective but are associated with risks. The use of tympanostomy tubes, while popular, is not supported.

Ménière’s disease was first identified in the early 1800s by Prosper Ménière.
It affects between 0.3 and 1.9 per 1,000 people. It most often starts in people 40 to 60 years old. Females are more commonly affected than males. After 5 to 15 years of symptoms, the episodes of the world spinning generally stop, and the person is left with mild loss of balance, moderately poor hearing in the affected ear, and ringing in their ear.

stress
Stress can cause Tinnitus.

Stress.

It is not always clear whether stress causes the onset of tinnitus. However, tinnitus may be more noticeable if you are anxious or stressed. A link has been suggested between tinnitus and the serotonergic system, a nerve signaling system in the brain-centered on a molecule called serotonin, that is involved in anxiety, depression, attention, stress, and neural plasticity.

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Glue Ear.

Glue ear is a condition mainly affecting children also known as otitis media with effusion, it causes a buildup of fluid in the inner ear that usually heals over time without treatment. See your doctor if your child is speaking more loudly or quietly than normal, they are difficult to understand, are often asking people to repeat what is being said, they ask for TVs, pc sound systems to be turned up, or become easily distracted when people are talking.

eardrum
Outer ear.

Perforated eardrum.

A perforated eardrum can be caused by infections, changes in air pressure (such as when flying or scuba diving), or exposure to loud noise. Its often accompanied by extreme pain in the ear.

Otosclerosis

Otosclerosis is the most common cause of progressive deafness in young adults. Otosclerosis is a condition where one or more foci of irregularly laid spongy bone replace part of the normally dense enchondral layer of bony otic capsule in the bony labyrinth of the ear. This condition affects one of the ossicles resulting in hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo, or a combination of symptoms.

High Blood Pressure

When your blood pressure increases to unhealthy levels. Hypertension can be caused by arteries narrowing. Hypertension typically develops over several years. Usually, you don’t notice any symptoms but even without symptoms, high blood pressure can cause damage to your blood vessels and organs, especially the brain, heart, eyes, and kidneys. Hypertension can be caused by our genetic makeup, physical changes such as weight gain or loss, our environment, like a lack of physical activity and a poor diet. There are strong indicators that high blood pressure can cause Tinnitus.

Other causes…

Less commonly, tinnitus may develop as a result of a head injury, changes in blood flow (eg anemia), reactions to certain medications, acoustic neuroma (a rare non-cancerous growth that affects the hearing nerve), diabetes, and thyroid disorders.

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