Tinnitus - Cause

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What was the cause of your case of tinnitus?

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What causes tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a symptom, not a disease, and it has a variety of causes that may arise anywhere in the hearing mechanism. It begins in the ear with the tympanic membrane and the cochlea, where sound is transmitted into electrical energy for the brain to perceive.

  • Tinnitus that is throbbing (pulsatile) may be due to blood flow through arteries and veins adjacent to the ear, as well as tumors that are vascular, having increased blood flow within them.
  • Tinnitus that is described as clicking may be due to abnormalities that cause the muscle in the roof of the mouth (palate) to go into spasm. This causes the Eustachian tube, which helps equalize pressure in the ears, to repeatedly open and close. Multiple sclerosis and other neurologic diseases that are associated with muscle spasms may also be a cause of tinnitus, as they may also lead to spasms of certain muscles in the middle ear that can cause the repetitive clicking.
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) abnormalities may cause a repeated clicking sound in the ear.
  • Damage to the vestibulocochlear nerve, responsible for transmitting sound from the ear to the brain may cause tinnitus. This may be due to drug toxicity or tumor (for example, acoustic neuroma).
  • Meniere's disease, which is associated with hearing loss and vertigo, may also cause tinnitus.
  • As people age, their hearing may decrease and there can be associated tinnitus.
  • Otosclerosis, which is caused by abnormal bone growth in the middle ear, can sometimes cause tinnitus.
  • Trauma may also be a cause of tinnitus and hearing loss. This includes barotrauma, whereby air pressure changes can damage ear function.

Picture of the Ear Anatomy
Picture of the Ear Anatomy
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See what others are saying

Comment from: Marie, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: December 05

The first time I took a blood pressure pill, I experienced ringing in both of my ears, within 12 hours. I have had it ever since. I hope one day I wake up and it's gone.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: becca, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: April 01

I fell on the ice and ever since my ear has been ringing; the tinnitus started with my right then going to my left.

Was this comment helpful?Yes

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