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What Causes Tinnitus?

By: Kelly Warf, Au.D.
Sanjeev Balamohan, M.D.

Ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus [TIN-NUH-TUS or TIN-NIGHT-US], is experienced by over 50 million Americans. Tinnitus is the perception of sound without an external source. It can sound like a clicking noise, humming, high-pitch ringing, or even sound like your heartbeat. The first step is an ear evaluation to determine the cause. An evaluation from an ENT physician along with a hearing evaluation by an Audiologist can identify the etiology of the ringing. Common reasons for ringing include the following:

  • Hearing loss: Hearing loss can occur for many reasons, one of them being aging. As our hearing decreases over time, the ringing can become more pronounced. Hearing aids can help with hearing loss and alleviate the tinnitus.
  • Noise Exposure: Exposure to loud sounds (both in intensity and duration) can lead to temporary or permanent damage to the hair cells in the inner ear. This leads to hearing loss and/or tinnitus.
  • Wax Build-up: ear wax build-up can amplify tinnitus. Regular ear cleanings with an ENT specialist can reduce build-up.
  • Ear Infections: Ear infections can cause temporary tinnitus. It is important that you seek medical attention to treat the infection as this can lead to further damage in the ear.
  • Medical Condition: Tinnitus can be a symptom of certain disorders, such as TMJ (jaw joint) issues or neck pain.
  • Medication side effect: Some medications are toxic to the ear while others can produce tinnitus as a side effect.

If you are experiencing tinnitus, schedule your appointment with our ENT and Audiologist today. Call 847-685-1000.

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