Do you often have ringing or buzzing in your ears? This may be a sign that you have tinnitus. People who have it often perceive such sounds even if there’s no external source to stimulate them. It’s quite common, as it affects around 32 percent of the population of the country.
If you think you think you have it, learn more about the condition first before undergoing any tinnitus treatments. Read on for a basic guide about tinnitus.
Although hearing ringing or buzzing noises are common among people with tinnitus, some have reported experiencing other symptoms. Other possible sounds include:
If a person experiences repeated incidents of these sounds in the ear, they likely have tinnitus.
Causes of Tinnitus
Many people think that tinnitus is a condition that happens on its own. But the truth is that it’s often a symptom of another underlying health issue. The following are some of the possible causes:
- Hearing Loss – Tinnitus is common in people who suffer hearing loss. Any level of hearing impairment, whether age-related or induced by constant noise exposure, can result in some form of tinnitus. The damaged ear no longer perceives sounds normally, and the problem can manifest as buzzing or ringing noises.
- Inner Ear Hair Cell Damage – The little hairs in your inner ear are responsible for helping your brain perceive and interpret the sound waves. They are moved by the vibrations of the sound waves, which causes the cells in the inner ear to release a signal to your brain. If any of these hairs are damaged or crooked, this may trigger the cells to release random sound signals to the brain and cause tinnitus.
- Sudden Exposure to Loud Noises – A short-term exposure to loud noise, such as the sound of heavy equipment or even a rock concert, can also lead to tinnitus. Usually, this eventually goes away as your ears recover. But if the noise is loud enough, such as an explosion, the damage can cause chronic tinnitus.
- Earwax Build-Up – Excessive production of earwax can lead to a blockage in the ear canal. When the wax hardens, it will interfere with your ability to perceive sound and cause impaired hearing and tinnitus.
- TMJ Problems – Issues with your temporomandibular joint or TMJ, which connects your jaw to your skull, can result in tinnitus. This is because some of the nerves connected to the TMJ are also linked to the muscles and nerves of the middle ear. Some of the nerves may also be attached to the part of the brain that interprets sound. Damage or strain to any part of your TMJ may lead these nerves to send random signals to the brain that it can perceive as sound.
- Spasms in the Middle Ear – Muscle spasms in the middle ear can also result in tinnitus. This is often coupled with hearing impairment and the sensation that there’s something in your ear. The muscles can suddenly become taut for various reasons, such as neurologic diseases. Although, there can be cases where spasms occur randomly for no apparent reason.
Types of Tinnitus
There are two main types of tinnitus. The first one is called subjective tinnitus. This is the kind that only the affected person can hear and cannot be detected by an audiologist or ENT doctor. It is caused by issues with the nerves that receive the sounds waves or the brain section that is assigned to interpret them. It can also be due to a problem involving any part of the ear.
The second kind of tinnitus is called objective tinnitus. This type can be heard by hearing experts when examining the patient’s ear with the appropriate tools. This is less common than subjective tinnitus and is often caused by muscle spasms, issues with blood vessels near the ear, or problems with the bones in the middle ear.
These are just some of the things you need to learn about tinnitus. Knowing these things can help you assess whether you have the condition. If what you’re experiencing is similar to what has been described, visit a hearing clinic near you. An audiologist can help you diagnose the condition and recommend tinnitus treatments as needed.