Tinnitus refers to the ringing sensation in the ears. For some it is felt like a buzzing or whistling sound that troubles them at night. Tinnitus is actually very common and affects about one in five people. The disturbance may be continuous or periodic in nature. The noise varies in intensity and duration depending on the individual. For some, it may be feeble, while in some others, the noise may be very high and disturbing. It may be felt in one ear or in both ears. Tinnitus is not a disease in itself, but is a symptom of an underlying condition. In most cases, the sound is felt more in the night as the background noise is less.
Tinnitus is caused by a number of conditions. One of the most common causes of ringing in the ears is extensive exposure to loud sounds. Thus, it is very commonly seen among carpenters, street repair workers, and other people who often work around loud noises, music, and other sounds. In some cases, a sudden exposure to loud sound may also result in tinnitus.
Common causes of tinnitus include:
- Aging – Many of the inner sensitive parts of the ear may deteriorate with age leading to tinnitus.
- Ear blockage – Many conditions that lead to blockage of the ear including infections, accumulation of wax, and benign tumor may result in ringing of ears.
- Stiffening of ear bones – As bones in the middle ear become rigid, ringing may be resulted.
- Medical conditions – Certain medical conditions like hypertension, cardiovascular disorders, anemia, allergy, and thyroid deficiency may all lead to this condition.
- Certain medications – Aspirin, certain antibiotics, sedatives, antidepressants, usually have tinnitus as one of the side effects.
- Neck or head injury
- Meniere’s disease
Drinking alcohol and other caffeine containing drinks, smoking and eating certain kinds of foods may trigger tinnitus. One should remember to meet the doctor if the person develops tinnitus immediately after an infection of the upper respiratory system. This is particularly important if the condition does not improve even after a week of treatment. You should report to the doctor if the ringing starts without any obvious reasons or if you have hearing loss or dizziness along with the condition.
Although not a serious condition, tinnitus can affect the quality of life of a person. It can result in fatigue, stress, difficulty in concentration, memory problems, and anxiety in some. The best way to relieve the symptoms is to control the underlying condition that results in tinnitus.