Causes of Tinnitus

Tinnitus/Ear Noises

Tinnitus is commonly described as a ringing, buzzing, chirping, whooshing or hissing sensation that originates in the ear or the head.  More than 50 million Americans experience tinnitus for a number of different reasons. Though tinnitus is usually not dangerous, it can be a symptom of another health problem or underlying condition. Tinnitus can cause many stressful side effects, including fatigue, sleep problems, concentration difficulty, memory problems, depression, anxiety and irritability. Though it's not necessarily serious, it can negatively impact your quality of life.  

What causes tinnitus?

Tinnitus may have several underlying causes.

Possible causes of tinnitus include:

  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Earwax buildup
  • Abnormal bone growth in the ear
  • Meniere's disease
  • Stress and depression
  • Head or neck injuries
  • Benign tumor of the cranial nerve
  • Certain medications
  • Trauma to the ear
  • Vascular disorders

In some cases, the exact cause of the tinnitus may not be found but serious underlying conditions can be ruled out.

How is tinnitus treated?

Depending on the cause of your tinnitus, there are a number of different treatment methods available to help you find relief. Your hearing care provider will assess the severity of your tinnitus, symptoms, how it impedes your daily life and possible causes and recommend one of the following solutions.

  • Hearing aids
  • White noise machine
  • Removal of ear wax
  • Referral to ENT for ear infection/disease
  • Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT)
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Phone apps

It is important to note that there is not one treatment that will work for everyone. Hearing aids are one of the most widely recommended treatments because they can be equipped with sound masking features, enabling the individual to block out the tinnitus sounds.

In general, tinnitus treatments may not make the tinnitus disappear completely, but they often alleviate the noise during wearing hours. Dr. Shafer is prepared to discuss your specific tinnitus needs and offer the best tinnitus treatment option(s).