Do you ever hear a strange, high-pitched ringing in your ears? Don’t worry; it doesn’t mean you’re crazy!
A surprising number of people suffer from constant ringing in ears. They may hear ringing in one ear or in both ears. The sound may be a ringing, a buzzing, or even clicking. You can feel it INSIDE YOUR HEAD, rather than from an external source. All of these things are symptoms of a simple problem, one known as tinnitus.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at what causes ringing in the ears, the medical term for ringing in the ears, what’s really going on, and options for treatment for ringing in the ears. You’ll learn everything you need to know about this odd ringing and what it means for you…
What is Ringing in the Ears?
Tinnitus is the medical term for ringing in the ears.
According to PDR Health,
tinnitus is,”a condition in which people hear constant or periodic sound not caused by an outside source. The sound can also be described as a ringing, buzzing, or clicking noise that occurs inside the head. Ringing in the ears can be heard in one or both ears, and in the head, and its pitch may be low or high.”
The Hearing Health Foundation describes it as:
“the conscious experience of sound that originates in the head of its owner. It is hearing sound without an external, acoustic source. Brief, spontaneous tinnitus, lasting seconds to minutes, is a nearly universal sensation.”
There are two types of tinnitus (ringing in one ear or both ears):
- Temporary Tinnitus
This is a ringing that sets in after excessive noise exposure, such as in a rock concert (being too near the speakers) or the explosion of a firecracker. This excessive noise can cause injury to the ear, causing the ringing. The tinnitus will usually clear up on its own and will last anywhere from minutes to hours.
- Chronic Tinnitus
This is a condition that lasts more than 90 days. If the ringing persists for longer than 3 months, it is classified as “chronic“.
Did you know: It’s estimated that 5 to 10% of the U.S. adult population suffers from chronic tinnitus. 0.5% of adults suffer from severe and debilitating tinnitus
What Causes Ringing in the Ears?
Before we get into what causes ringing in the ears, it’s important to know who is at greater risk of the problem.
Tinnitus is more common among:
- Seniors (over the age of 55)
- Arthritis patients
- Those with hypertension
- Varicose vein sufferers
- Atherosclerosis/arteriosclerosis sufferers
- Blue-collar workers
But what causes ringing in the ears? Why are THESE people more at risk than others? All of these people are at a higher risk of developing tinnitus for one simple reason: they are more likely to suffer from hearing loss.
According to the Hearing Health Foundation: Roughly 90 percent of tinnitus cases occur with an underlying hearing loss.
It’s estimated that up to 90% of cases of tinnitus are the result of prolonged exposure, which can lead to noise-induced hearing loss. Loud noise damages the cochlea, the spiral-shaped organ in the inner ear that is HIGHLY sensitive to noise.
The more noise you’re exposed to, the more damage the cochlea takes, and the more your hearing is reduced.
People who are regularly exposed to excessive noise include:
- Blue-collar, street-level workersLandscapersRock musicians
- Anyone who works around guns and other loud devices
- People who regularly listen to loud music
This repeated, consistent exposure to loud noises can cause chronic tinnitus.
According to PDR Health, exposure to more than 60 seconds of noise louder than 110 dB can cause hearing loss.
If there is a tumor growing in your ear, it may press on the auditory nerve (which sends signals to your brain). This could cause the nerve to “misfire“, sending signals that your ear doesn’t actually detect.
If your ear is blocked due to ear infections or wax buildup, these blockages may press on your auditory nerve, to the same effect.
As you grow older, your cochlea’s function begins to decline. It becomes less sensitive to stimuli (sounds) and may begin to malfunction.
Other parts of your ear may also lose function or may start detecting signals that they aren’t receiving.
Aspirin is one of the many types of drugs that can cause a ringing in your ears, along with quinine medications and a number of anti-inflammatories, antidepressants, antibiotics, and sedatives.
In fact: it’s estimated that up to 200 different drugs are what causes ringing in the ears.
This is a disease that causes the small bones in your middle ear to stiffen, thus reducing their function.
The result of this disease is hearing reduction and loss, and thus may be the cause of the ringing in your ears.
Head and Neck Injuries
If you sustain traumatic injuries to your head or neck, the resulting inflammation can place pressure on the auditory nerve.
Neck and jaw problems like temporomandibular joint syndrome can also lead to a ringing in your ears.
This disease affects the inner part of your ear, including the cochlea. It can lead to malfunction of this sensitive inner ear organ, affecting your hearing and thus causing the ringing in your ears.
Dizziness will usually accompany the ringing if Meniere’s disease is the cause.
A number of medical conditions may be linked to tinnitus, including (but not limited to):
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Circulatory problems
- An underactive or overactive thyroid gland
- Cardiovascular disease
- Brain tumors
There are a number of things that can make the ringing in your ears even worse! If you consume caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine (from cigarettes), the ringing may worsen.
Even eating certain foods can increase the ringing! Both fatigue and stress contribute to the severity of the ringing.
All of these things may be the cause of hearing loss, and thus may be the reason that you hear ringing in your ears. Understanding this will ensure that you know what is behind the problem and take steps to find out how to stop ear ringing…
Ringing in the Ears Treatment
For those who want to know how to stop ear ringing, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve got all the information on the right treatment for ringing in the ears, including home remedies, medication, and more…
Home Remedies: They’re a Bust
According to E-Medicine Health, it’s not recommended to use home remedies for tinnitus for one simple reason: they don’t deal with the real problem!
As the information above shows, the ringing in your ears is likely related to hearing loss or serious medical conditions. You can’t just treat the ringing, but you have to deal with the disorders. While there are home remedies for most of the diseases and disorders mentioned above, they won’t do the job as well as a doctor.
Note: You want to have the real root of the problem diagnosed and treated specifically, so home remedies are NOT the way to go.
Treating the Problem
In order to treat the ringing in your ears, your doctor will try to find out what is causing the problem. They will investigate the underlying condition and take steps to deal with it.
Solutions may include:
If the ringing is the result of a medication you’re taking, the doctor will prescribe a new medication that shouldn’t cause the problem.
If it’s due to a buildup of ear wax or impacted ear wax, removing the wax can solve or improve the problem.
Note: To prevent the buildup of ear wax in the first place, consider getting into the habit of using the Oto-Tip to clean your ears at home. This automated spinning swab cleans the wax from the ear without pushing it deeper into the canal. Cleaning with things that do push wax deeper into the ear canal is currently how some of those large wax buildup plugs are formed.
Treating the problem
This may include medication to suppress the disease, surgery to remove a tumor or repair the inner ear, and other treatments.
Basically, the doctor will look for what’s causing the problem, and deal with it rather than trying to just stop the ringing. That should cure the tinnitus effectively!
Medication for Ringing in the Ears
While there are drugs that can cause tinnitus, there are others that can help to reduce the risk of complications or even mute the ringing in your ears.
There are a couple of drugs that can prove useful:
Sold under the names Xanax and Niravam, this medication can help to reduce the ringing in your ears. However, side effects include nausea and drowsiness, and it can be addicting.
- Tricyclic antidepressants
This includes both nortriptyline and amitriptyline, which have been used to treat severe cases of tinnitus. However, side effects include blurred vision, dry mouth, constipation, and even heart problems!
These medications are not the long-term solution! The only way to deal with tinnitus is to treat whatever is causing the problem. These medications will just help manage the problem.
Dealing with the Noise
While the doctor is treating your tinnitus, he may recommend something to help you deal with the ringing in your ears. This will reduce the irritation of the ringing, improving your quality of life as the doctor searches for the root of the problem.
Solutions may include:
- White noise machines, to drown out or mute the ringing in your ears
- Hearing aids, which can help to treat hearing loss (which is causing the tinnitus)
- Retraining, a device that helps to mask the ringing in your ears, helping to acclimate you to the sound
- Masking devices, devices similar to hearing aids that produce low-level white noise to suppress the ringing
These methods will help you to cope with the problem until the ringing is resolved. They can reduce the irritation of the ringing, or allow you to live a healthy, happy life despite the ringing.
Constant ringing in your ears can be quite hard to cope with, but the information above will make it easier to understand what’s going on. Now that you know what the ringing is, what causes it, and how to deal with it, it’s time to pay your doctor a visit.
Get treatment now, and you may be able to prevent the hearing loss that is causing the ringing in your ears!