Tinnitus can develop gradually or appear out of nowhere. The causes of tinnitus are varied and difficult to pin down. In the vast majority of cases, however, tinnitus is not related to any serious physical condition. It is believed that tinnitus is amplified spontaneous neural activity, resulting in a “ringing in the brain”.
Understanding Tinnitus – Causes and Symptoms
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is the sensation of hearing intermittent or continuous ringing, humming, buzzing, whistling, or other sounds. It can appear worse when background noise is low so you may be more aware of it in a quiet space.
Tinnitus can develop gradually or appear out of nowhere. While frustrating, in the vast majority of cases, it is not related to any serious physical condition.
Common causes of tinnitus
Prolonged exposure to excessively loud sounds, including workplace noise, high-intensity music, or firearms is the most common cause of tinnitus. Approximately 4 in 5 people with tinnitus also experience some level of noise-induced hearing loss.
A wide variety of other conditions can lead to developing tinnitus, such as:
Symptoms of tinnitus
People with tinnitus can experience anything from intermittent episodes of ringing that are not very bothersome to a constant noise that can negatively influence one’s daily life. Tinnitus is often only heard by the person experiencing it (subjective tinnitus); although, occasionally a doctor may be able to hear it when using a stethoscope in the ear (objective tinnitus).
Tinnitus takes on many forms
Symptoms of tinnitus can indicate a larger health problem. You should see a hearing care professional under any of the following circumstances:
Want to know more about the ear?
Do you have additional questions about the ear anatomy? Would you like to know more about hearing loss, or get a free hearing screening to assess your level of hearing loss? A Beltone hearing care professional can help!