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Your ENT and Hearing Care Specialists

Causes of Tinnitus

Tinnitus (literally “ringing” in Latin) is characterized by ringing, buzzing, or noises that originate in the ear or the head, and can cause discomfort and stress.

Though this condition is usually not dangerous, it can be a symptom of another health problem or underlying condition. Tinnitus can cause so many stressful side effects, including fatigue, sleep problems, concentration difficulty, memory problems, depression, anxiety, and irritability. Though it's not necessarily serious, it can be quite debilitating.

What Causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus may have several underlying causes. Tinnitus can be caused by a number of things from certain medications to a variety of health problems. The most common cause of tinnitus is hearing loss. Your physician will take a detailed history of your health and medications, perform a thorough examination, and order a hearing test or or conduct other tests of the auditory system.

Possible causes of tinnitus include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Earwax buildup
  • Abnormal bone growth in the ear
  • Meniere's disease
  • Stress and depression
  • Head or neck injuries
  • Benign tumor of the hearing and balance cranial nerve
  • Long-term aspirin use

In some cases, the exact cause of the tinnitus may not be found but serious underlying conditions can be ruled out.

How is Tinnitus Treated?

Tinnitus sometimes resolves on its own. Tinnitus may be treated by addressing the underlying condition.

Sound therapy is another option that can help lessen the severity of tinnitus. Sound therapy involves the use of a sound-generating device as part of an overall program designed by an audiologist that includes informational counseling and other activities to help ease the stress of tinnitus. Many current hearing aids have tinnitus management strategies as a part of the fitting process.

In general, tinnitus treatments may not make the tinnitus disappear completely, but but they may make it less noticeable and ease your stress and anxiety from it. Speak with your audiologist about the best tinnitus treatment option for you.