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What Causes Ringing in Your Ears?

Tinnitus, commonly known as ringing in the ears, is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. The sounds you hear may be buzzing, humming, or whistling and can range from low to high in pitch and intensity. Tinnitus may affect one ear or both, and the sound can be constant or intermittent. In order to understand what causes ringing in your ears, it is important to first understand what tinnitus is and what its symptoms are.

What Causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus can be a frustrating and annoying condition, and the source of tinnitus may be difficult to identify. There are many causes of tinnitus, and the source will vary from person to person. Tinnitus can affect people of all ages and backgrounds, but certain factors may increase an individual’s risk of developing the condition.

Common causes of risk factors for tinnitus include cardiovascular problems, noise exposure, genetics, and age-related hearing loss. However, these risk factors do not guarantee that an individual will develop tinnitus. The following sections provide a more in-depth look into the potential causes of tinnitus.

Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is a common cause of tinnitus. This may include age-related hearing loss, noise-induced hearing loss, and ototoxicity, which occurs when medications damage the inner ear or auditory nerve. As you age, your ear’s ability to hear certain sounds may decline and lead to ringing in the ear.

Additionally, exposure to loud noise may damage the inner ear, leading to tinnitus. This is often caused by earbuds, loud musical concerts, or working in industrial settings. Therefore, it is essential to wear ear protection in noisy environments, avoid listening to headphones that go inside the ear canal, and get hearing tests regularly to help prevent tinnitus and hearing loss.

Ear Infections and Inflammation

When determining what causes ringing in your ears, it is crucial to consider ear infections and inflammation. Conditions such as otitis media, otitis externa, and Meniere’s disease may cause swelling and inflammation in the ear, leading to ringing or other phantom sounds. An ear infection can also cause fluid to build up in the ear, leading to tinnitus. Fortunately, most ear infections are treatable, so if you notice any signs of infection or inflammation in your ear, it is important to seek medical attention.

Cardiovascular Issues

Cardiovascular issues such as high blood pressure, stroke, and atherosclerosis may lead to tinnitus. Atherosclerosis is a condition where plaque builds up in the arteries and causes them to narrow, leading to poor circulation. This may disrupt the blood flow in the inner ear. Additionally, having a stroke may damage the nerve pathways in the ear, leading to tinnitus. If you are prone to cardiovascular issues, it is vital to pay attention to any changes in your hearing as this may indicate an underlying heart condition.

Trauma to the Ear and Head

Trauma to the ear and head may also cause tinnitus. This may include injuries such as a concussion, whiplash, or a fracture in the skull. After an injury to the ear or head, the auditory nerve and other structures in the ear may be damaged, leading to ringing or other phantom sounds.

Tumors and Abnormal Growths

Tumors and abnormal growths can also cause tinnitus. This may include acoustic neuroma, glomus tumors, and cholesteatoma. These growths can press on the nerve pathways in the ear, leading to tinnitus.

Acoustic Neuroma

Acoustic neuroma, also known as a vestibular schwannoma, is a non-cancerous tumor that develops on the vestibular nerve, which is responsible for transmitting sound and balance signals from the inner ear to the brain. These tumors can cause tinnitus and other hearing problems, as well as balance issues and facial weakness.

Glomus Tumors

Glomus tumors are non-cancerous growths that develop on the blood vessels near the inner ear. These tumors may cause tinnitus, hearing loss, and facial pain or pressure. The exact cause of glomus tumors is not well understood, but they may be related to genetic or environmental factors. In some cases, glomus tumors may develop due to injury or inflammation in the area near the ear.


Cholesteatoma is a type of non-cancerous skin growth that occurs in the middle ear behind the eardrum. These growths may cause hearing loss, tinnitus, and other symptoms due to their proximity to the middle and inner ear. They may also lead to infection and other complications if left untreated.

These three conditions are relatively uncommon causes of tinnitus, but they can be serious and require prompt medical attention. Early diagnosis and treatment may help prevent or reduce the severity of tinnitus and other hearing problems associated with these tumors. Sometimes, surgically removing the tumor may be necessary to relieve symptoms and prevent further complications. Your healthcare provider can help determine the best course of action for your individual needs and help you manage your condition effectively.

Discover What Causes Ringing in Your Ears

If you’re struggling with tinnitus, don’t wait any longer to seek help. At the Ear and Sinus Institute, our team of experts is dedicated to providing patients with the best possible care for their ear and sinus problems. With our cutting-edge treatments, we can help you manage your symptoms and get back to living your life to the fullest. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and take the first step toward finding out what causes ringing in your ears. 

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