Tinnitus: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments


Tinnitus is the medical term used to describe the presence of a noise in the head or ears. The noise varies from person to person and sometimes can be faint or loud, but the sounds are only heard from the person being affected. The sounds heard can often be so loud that they interfere with concentration and everyday life. It is a common affliction, but some people are not aware that of condition or may think the sounds they are hearing are coming from their surroundings and ignore the symptoms.

The symptoms of tinnitus vary among each person and can occur in one ear, both ears or the head. The noise heard can sound like a number of different sounds including whistling, buzzing, hissing, ringing, water or beating. The sounds can come and go or for some may be a continuous problem. Although many people with tinnitus have the worst symptoms at night when they are in a quiet environment and trying to go to sleep, there are some people who experience the sounds throughout the day. While some people are not bothered by the symptoms of tinnitus because they are simply used to and manage to ignore it, others can experience significant changes in quality of life. The individuals that are greatly affected by the symptoms may suffer from depression, stress, headaches, dizziness, lack of concentration and sleep disorders.

There are a number of possible causes for Tinnitus including an infection or disease of the inner, middle or external ear, hearing loss, impacted ear wax, aging and continuous exposure to loud noises. Temporary causes of tinnitus could occur when someone has experienced a head or neck injury, taking certain medications, having a cold, dental problems or exposure to loud noises such as going to a concert. Extensive tinnitus is a common occurrence for people who work in a loud environment such as factory with loud machines. Hearing loss can lead to tinnitus as well, due to the low-frequency noise it presents and the loss of hearing can cause someone to think they are actually hearing outside sounds. Impacted ear wax can lead to tinnitus if the problem is not corrected by removing the hardened ear wax.

The first thing you should do is visit your family physician for an examination. Tinnitus is often associated with medical problems including high blood pressure or it may be the result of hearing loss. Either way, the condition warrants a visit to the physician to get a comprehensive hearing test, an examination for a buildup of ear wax, an infection or the physician may recommend additional tests to determine if the symptoms are the result of a medical condition. There are mixed reviews regarding the treatment of tinnitus ranging from the symptoms will eventually stop on their own to a treatable medical condition being the cause, so a visit to the doctor is highly recommended. The physician will also be able to suggest treatments if the condition is not medical related such as relaxation techniques, stress relief and sleep solutions.

Although the prevention of tinnitus may not be 100% effective in avoiding the condition, there are several steps you can take to help in the prevention. The risk of tinnitus can increase when you are exposed to extremely loud noises, so wear ear protection whenever possible, be cautious about putting items in your ears such as cotton swabs, cover your ears when you do not have ear protection in loud places, avoid stimulates such as coffee and soda, try to avoid stressful situations and maintain your health by guarding against high blood pressure.

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