woman with Tinnitus

Tinnitus is when you hear sounds that other people cannot hear. Most people that have tinnitus describe it as a ringing in the ear. However, people can hear many different sounds, including roaring and buzzing. Tinnitus is much more common than people think. With many people searching the web for new remedies and supplements such as Tinnitus 911, It’s estimated that about 10-25% of adults have tinnitus. Children can also have it, but this is less common. 

The exact causes of tinnitus are unknown, but most people that experience tinnitus also have hearing loss. Most of the time, tinnitus is not severe and will not interfere with the daily moments of life. However, it’s common for it to lead to mental health issues such as anxiety. 

Since there is no way for tinnitus to be fully cured, those who experience it need to take steps to reduce the symptoms. This usually includes hearing aids or medications. A doctor will be able to tell you exactly how you can help with your symptoms of tinnitus. 

Who Is More at Risk for Tinnitus? 

Anyone can develop tinnitus, but there are those that have higher risk factors than others. 

Here are some ways people can be at higher risk of developing tinnitus:

  • Those who smoke
  • Those who excessively or binge drink alcohol 
  • Obesity 
  • Any kind of cardiovascular problems 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Arthritis or a history of arthritis 
  • Head injuries 

How Do I Know If I Have Tinnitus? 

Whether you are at risk or not, you might be wondering how to tell if you have tinnitus. Symptoms can vary from person to person, so you will need to get an official diagnosis from a doctor before you can determine if you have tinnitus or not. 

The most common sign is that you hear phantom sounds. It can happen in one or both ears. Phantom noises can vary from one person to the next, but most people hear ringing, buzzing, whistling, humming, squealing, clicking, or hissing. 

Some people hear it all the time, and for others, the noise comes and goes. For some, they can touch their ear or other parts of the head, and the noise will go away or become louder. 

Tinnitus noises can only be heard by the person, and others cannot hear it. 

However, sometimes the noise can sound like a heartbeat. Doctors can often hear this kind of tinnitus by putting a stethoscope up to your ear. This is rare, though, and it is called objective tinnitus. If you have objective tinnitus, there is often a reason why it’s present, and it can be treated. 

Other types of tinnitus often have no known cause, and there is no treatment. 

Why Do I Have Tinnitus? 

If you find out you have tinnitus, it can be frustrating and annoying. It’s also hard because there is oftentimes no absolute known cause, and you can’t know for sure why you developed it. 

These are the most common reasons why you might have developed tinnitus:

  • Hearing loss. If you are experiencing hearing loss, it’s common to also have tinnitus. Some people can experience hearing loss without the other, though. 
  • Medications. If your tinnitus started soon after taking certain medications, it might be caused by the medication, and it will stop once you finish the medication. The common medications that can cause tinnitus are antidepressants, anti-malaria medications, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Certain antibiotics and anti-cancer drugs can also cause tinnitus. 
  • Earwax. If your ear canal is blocked by earwax, it can cause a ringing noise or other symptoms of tinnitus. Ear infections and fluid in the ear can also cause tinnitus. 
  • Noise exposure. Sometimes, after very loud noise exposure, you can experience temporary tinnitus. This happens when there are loud noises at your workplace or when you have just attended a concert or sporting event. It can often go away, but it might become permanent if you are around the loud noise for a prolonged period of time. 
  • Head and neck injuries. When you have an injury to the head or neck, you can get damage to the inner ear structures. You can also get injuries to the nerve in charge of carrying signals to the brain, which processes sound. This can cause tinnitus. 

Here are some less common tinnitus risk factors to consider if none of the above apply to you:

  • Blood vessel problems like high blood pressure
  • Jaw joint problems such as jaw clenching or tooth grinding 
  • Tumor-related diseases like benign tumors in the nerves from the inner ear to the brain 
  • Chronic conditions like diabetes or thyroid disorders 
  • Meniere’s disease 

How Can Tinnitus Be Diagnosed?

If you think you have tinnitus, you need to go to the doctor so they can make an official diagnosis. Most of the time, the doctor will first check for earwax or fluid in the ear. Then, they will take a look at your medical history and see if you have any risk factors for tinnitus. 

You might be referred to an otolaryngologist or an ENT. They will examine your ears and neck as well as your head. They will do a hearing test and see if it’s affecting your tinnitus. 

If the tinnitus is causing pulsing noises, they ask you to do some imaging tests like an MRI or CT. All these things allow them to see if your tinnitus is caused by a medical problem or a structural problem. 

If your tinnitus is severe or causing issues, they will ask to offer you treatments which can include:

  • Sound therapies 
  • Hearing aids 
  • Behavioral therapy 
  • Medications or supplements 

There are many different treatment options available to help with tinnitus, so don’t get discouraged if one is not working for you. There are always other options. 

Final Thoughts 

Tinnitus can be annoying and frustrating. If you smoke or have had a head injury, you are more likely to be affected by tinnitus, but anyone can experience it. It’s important to visit your doctor so they can make a diagnosis and offer you solutions and treatments to make your quality of life better.