What is tinnitus? (ringing in the ear)
Tinnitus is the medical term for the sensation of hearing sound in your ears when no external sound is present. Tinnitus affects 50 million Americans (nearly one in six of us). Most sufferers describe the sound as “ringing in ears,” though others describe it as hissing, buzzing, whistling, roaring and even chirping.
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What causes tinnitus?
Scientists and health experts don’t know the exact physical cause of tinnitus, but several sources are known to trigger or make it worse, including:
- Loud noises and hearing loss – Exposure to loud noises can destroy the non-regenerative cilia (tiny hairs) in the cochlea, causing permanent tinnitus and/or hearing loss.
- Aging – As you age, those same cilia gradually deteriorate, which can lead to tinnitus and/or hearing loss.
- Ototoxic medications – Some prescription medications such as antibiotics,
- Anti-inflammatories and antidepressants can be harmful to the inner ear as well as the nerve fibers connecting the cochlea to the brain.
- Hearing conditions – Conditions such as otosclerosis and Ménière’s disease are known to cause tinnitus.
- Health conditions – Tinnitus can also be a symptom of health conditions like cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stress, and head injuries.