People with tinnitus hear sounds that are not physically present. More than 50 million Americans experience tinnitus symptoms, from occasional episodes to chronic cases.
Tinnitus presents itself in one of two forms: subjective and objective. Subjective tinnitus is only perceptible by the affected individual and is indicative of an auditory or neurological problem. Objective tinnitus is rarer, and the ringing is audible to audiologists during a hearing evaluation.
Symptoms vary but usually include perceived sounds like:
- Rushing or whooshing
- Humming or whistling
What Causes Tinnitus?
The ringing in your ears is not a disease itself but a symptom of health issues, hearing damage and/or hearing loss.
- Circulatory problems like high blood pressure can exacerbate tinnitus because the hair cells in your ears require blood flow to function properly. Sodium and other foods that increase blood pressure can also affect tinnitus.
- Tumors on the auditory nerve in the brain impact balance and hearing. Those growths usually cause tinnitus in one ear.
- Inner ear muscle spasms and pressure can also cause ringing in the ears.
- Head or ear trauma can damage the inner ear or auditory nerve leading to tinnitus in one or both ears.
- Earwax build-up traps dirt and bacteria can cause infections and pressure on the eardrum and lead to tinnitus.
- Hearing loss often occurs with age, and tinnitus is a common symptom.
- Noise damage and noise-induced hearing loss are major contributing factors to tinnitus. Once damaged, the delicate hair cells in your ears cannot recover, resulting in ringing in the ears.
If you experience any form of tinnitus, check in with an audiologist at Hearing Associates.