At it’s most simple definition, Tinnitus is a condition in which the sufferer hear a ringing at all times, even though there are no sounds to be heard. A number of external factors and conditions can cause or exacerbate tinnitus. Unfortunately, it also means that sufferers will seldom find out exactly what causes it.
The most commonly accepted cause of tinnitus is ear cell damage. Tiny, delicate hairs in your inner ear move when brushed against by the pressure of sound waves. Your brain then turns these signals into information that makes sense and, thus, we interpret sounds. If the hairs in your inner ear are bent or broke, they can transmit electrical impulses to your brain, this causes tinnitus.
Other causes include ear problems and injuries, recurring health conditions and other problems that affect the nerves in your inner ear or even the hearing center within your brain itself.
Most Common Causes of Tinnitus
Most people will experience tinnitus from one or more of these conditions:
Age: Age related hearing loss is one of the most common causes of tinnitus. This usually starts around 60 years old and leads to developing tinnitus. The medical term for this type of hearing loss is presbycusis.
Loud Noises: Common among those who work with loud machinery and firearms, it’s becoming more common as we turn up the volume on our media players and cellphones. Constant exposure to loud noise, such as a loud concert can cause short term tinnitus that will fade away over time; longer-term exposure to that same amount of sound– such as putting in tons of overtime in a factory– can lead to permanent damage.
Earwax: It protects your ear by trapping dirt and slowing bacterial growth, however when it accumulates in excess it becomes too hard to get rid of naturally. This can cause hearing loss and irritation of the eardrum and thus, tinnitus can develop.
Among less common causes of tinnitus, diseases and sudden injury can cause this condition to manifest and include:
Head Injuries: Head injuries and trauma, like car accidents, can affect the inner ear or the brain function linked to hearing. This will typically result in tinnitus in one ear and may or may not be permanent.
TMJ Disorders: Problems with the temperomandibular joint, the joint on each side of your head in front of your ears, where your lower jawbone meets your skull, can cause tinnitus.
High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is a condition that can exacerbate tinnitus, and it remains one of the most directly controllable aspects that can mitigate the development of tinnitus.
Medication: Several medications can cause or worsen development of tinnitus. Generally speaking, higher doses of certain types of medication can make it more noticeable. This can be disconcerting, but when discontinuing these drugs, the symptoms will abate.
The prognosis of tinnitus depends on the type and severity of the cause, but is unpredictable. Unfortunately there is no single direct cause but, as with many health problems, eating right and reducing blood pressure can keep problems to a minimum and help you avoid developing tinnitus.