8 Things That Could Be The Causes of Your Tinnitus
Tinnitus is a tricky thing. Unlike a “normal” health condition where germs invading your body are the causes of certain symptoms, a variety of things can cause those oh-so-annoying tinnitus symptoms.
If you are dealing with ringing, buzzing, whooshing, chirping, or some other sound in your ears, one of these things could be to blame:
1. Damage to the cells in your inner ear
Since they look like little tiny hairs, these cells are called “hair cells.” Every time a sound wave passes by (like when you listen to someone speak or watch something on TV), your hair cells move. That is how your brain knows that sound is coming in through your ear.
But if your hair cells get damaged, they can move at random times, even if there’s no sound waves present. The end result? Your tinnitus symptoms.
Excessive noise is one of the biggest causes of tinnitus, in large part because it damages your hair cells. Too much noise can cause tinnitus or make an existing case worse.
You may suffer a sudden injury that occurs from one extreme noise event, or it can be slower damage (like years of working with loud equipment). Either way, the end result is the same.
How much noise is OK?
Experts say 85 dB is the highest level you should be exposed to in an 8-hour period (about as loud as a busy street). If you are constantly dealing with environments that are louder than that, you’re putting yourself at risk.
Tinnitus is not always caused by structural damage. Sometimes, mental stress and strain can be enough to cause it or make existing cases worse.
Sadly, the relationship between tinnitus and stress can be cyclical. When you get stressed out, it can make your tinnitus worse. Then, you are stressed out about your tinnitus symptoms, which makes everything worse!
Plus, stress is usually linked with higher blood pressure, which brings us to cause #4…
4. High blood pressure
Whether it is due to stress or genetics, people with higher blood pressure tend to have a higher risk for tinnitus. High blood pressure is especially linked to people with pulsatile tinnitus, but it can be linked to any form of tinnitus.
Even things that only raise your blood pressure temporarily – like caffeine and alcohol – can give you temporary bouts of tinnitus.
Unless you read the fine print carefully, you may not know that tinnitus can be a side effect of certain drug. Luckily, the symptoms will only occur for as long as you take the drug. As soon as you stop, the symptoms will go away. (Of course, do not stop taking any drugs without talking to your doctor first!)
There’s no set class of drugs that cause tinnitus. Everything from certain cancer medications, to diuretics, to malaria medications, to high doses of aspirin has been linked to tinnitus.
That is a fancy name for the stiffening of the bones in your middle ear. Typically, this condition runs in families, so if you have a couple of relatives with tinnitus, this could be the culprit.
7. Meniere’s Disease
Meniere’s Disease is a disorder in which abnormal amounts of inner ear fluid build up and cause too much pressure – which leads to tinnitus. This disease also causes hearing loss and dizziness, so if you don’t have these two symptoms, this is not the cause of your tinnitus.
TMJ is a problem with your temporomandibular joint – the joint that connects your jaw to your skull, just beneath your ears. If the joint is misaligned, it can lead to tinnitus.
People with TMJ also usually experience clicking when they chew and/or pain when they open and close their mouths. So, if these are the causes of your tinnitus, talk to your doctor about whether an orthodontic solution could help alleviate your TMJ and your tinnitus.