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What are the causes of tinnitus?

Tinnitus is not a disease in and of itself. Instead, it is a symptom of a larger problem. However, there are a number of problems that can cause tinnitus:

  • People who are exposed to loud noises may develop tinnitus. Some examples of loud noises that can cause tinnitus include gun blasts like a soldier might hear, loud machinery, or loud music repeatedly blared through headphones.
  • Tinnitus might be a complication of other disorders. For instance, individuals with hypertension, certain tumors, and atherosclerosis are more likely to develop the condition. When earwax blocks the ear canal, ear bones become rigid, or blood vessels are affected by another disease, tinnitus is likely.
  • Older people may develop tinnitus as a normal process of aging.
  • Certain medications can cause tinnitus; they can also make the disorder harder to deal with if you already have it. Some of the medications that are suspected to cause tinnitus include antibiotics, aspirin, and medications used to treat malaria.
David M. Vernick, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology)
Many of the same things that cause hearing loss also cause tinnitus: loud noise, medications that are toxic to the nerves in the ear, impacted earwax, middle ear problems (such as infections and vascular tumors), and aging. Tinnitus is also a symptom of Meniere's disease, a disorder of the balance mechanism in the inner ear, and perilymph fistula, a hole in the inner ear. But for most people with tinnitus, the cause is unknown. Many people say that it comes on when they are under stress.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.