Tinnitus Awareness Week is finally here! The past couple of weeks, Sound Oasis has looked at the symptoms of tinnitus as well as the two types of tinnitus: subjective and objective. To continue our series on tinnitus we will be focusing on the causes this week. Though an exact cause is never really found there are several factors that can lead to tinnitus, some more common than others.
Let’s start with some of the more common causes for tinnitus. Damage to the cells in the inner ear is one of the most common. There are tiny hairs inside the ear that detect the sound waves and send them as electrical impulses to the brain. If these hairs are bent, broken, or damaged in any way they can leak; sending random impulses that lead to the symptoms of tinnitus. As we age we begin to lose our hearing which is another common cause. Exposure to loud noises such as heavy equipment, firearms, portable music devices that have the volume turned up too loud, and attending loud concerts can also cause the symptoms of tinnitus. Otosclerosis or the changing of the bones in the ear can also cause tinnitus and is usually a genetic condition.
Next are some of less common causes for tinnitus. These include Meniere’s disease or an abnormal pressure of the fluid in the inner ear. Temporomandibular Joint disorders, TMJ or lock jaw, can also cause tinnitus symptoms. Though, it generally only causes symptoms in one ear. Head and neck trauma can also cause symptoms. Vestibular schwannoma, an acoustic neuroma on the cranial nerve that controls balance and hearing usually only causes symptoms in one ear.
Last are the more rare causes of tinnitus. Atherosclerosis affects the major blood vessels of the middle and inner ear causing them to close with age as well as the buildup of cholesterol. Vessels can lose elasticity which causes the blood to flow more forcefully causing the patient to hear the pulse of their heart in their ear. Blood vessels in the head and neck that have tumors pressing on them can also lead to a patient hearing their heart beat in their ears. Other rare causes of tinnitus are high blood pressure, turbulent blood flow or kinks in blood vessels, and the malformation of capillaries. Certain medications can also cause symptoms of tinnitus, the most common are antibiotics, cancer medications, diuretics used in weight loss, quinine medications used for malaria, and anti-depressants.
Thanks for joining us for Tinnitus Awareness Week! Next week we will be looking at diagnosing and treating tinnitus. Don’t forget to tell us how the updated Tinnitus Pro Therapy App is working for you as well as any questions, comment, and concerns below! See you all next week.