Causes of Tinnitus

Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, can be caused by a number of things. Common causes of tinnitus include:

  • Age-related hearing loss.
  • Blood vessel disorders.
  • Tumors
  • Head trauma or injury to the ears.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Side effects of medications, such as high doses of aspirin, some antibiotics and some cancer drugs.
  • Psychological conditions or stress.
  • Prolonged exposure to loud noises.

Unfortunately, in many cases the cause of tinnitus is never discovered or understood.

Some causes of tinnitus can be prevented, though many cannot. You should always wear hearing protection like ear plugs or over-the-ear protectors when working around noisy equipment or shooting firearms to protect your ears. Regular exercise and a healthful diet can prevent high blood pressure, which is sometimes a cause of tinnitus. Most of the time, though, tinnitus occurs unexpectedly and cannot be prevented.

Treatment for the condition depends on the cause of tinnitus. For instance, medication may treat tinnitus related to high blood pressure. Doctors remove tumors surgically and some blood vessel disorders require surgical correction, as well. If tinnitus is a side effect of medication, doctors may be able to prescribe a different drug that doesnít cause ringing in the ears.

Often, though, doctors cannot determine the cause of tinnitus. That makes it more difficult to treat.

Ringing in the ears often worsens in times of stress, so managing stress as well as possible and practicing relaxation techniques may relieve symptoms regardless of the causes of tinnitus. Tinnitus can cause anxiety and depression in some people, so psychotherapy or even psychotropic medication may help. Support groups with other people that suffer from the condition can help, as well.

White noise machines often mask the ringing sounds. Some people find relief with devices that play environmental noises like rain falling or ocean waves. You can also purchase masking devices that resemble hearing aids. They make white noise that can cover the ringing sounds in your ears.

Some medications relieve symptoms for some people with the condition, including tricyclic antidepressants and minor tranquilizers like xanax. Doctors usually only prescribe these drugs for the most severe cases of tinnitus, though, because they can have serious side effects such as blurred vision, nausea, headaches, weight gain and even heart problems. Drugs like xanax can also be addictive. They arenít effective for all causes of tinnitus, either.

See your doctor if you have tinnitus that bothers you, especially if it doesnít respond to home remedies like white noise machines or homeopathic treatments. Make sure you see your doctor right away if you experience ringing in the ears following a head injury. Your doctor may order some tests, such as an audiogram (hearing test), CT scan or MRI, to look for the cause of tinnitus in your case. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.

More than the causes of tinnitus on our tinnitus cures page

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