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: AKfreedom, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: June 02

Mine started 4 years ago after a 3 week stay in ICU fighting pneumonia. I was very close to death and to save me they gave me massive doses of antibiotics and steroids. I am thankful to be alive but have to live with severe ringing in both ears that never stops. I have read that it can drive people insane so I just try not to think about it and live my life as best I can. I would pay a lot to have it go away but suspect I will just have to live with it. I have not tried any "remedies" as I am sure it's all snake oil. If there was something that really worked the doctor would have it.

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Comment from: Ginap1563, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: June 05

About a year ago I awoke from a sound sleep because of an extremely loud high pitched whistle noise. I went all through the house and even outside trying to find the source of this loud noise and finally realized it was within my own head. Honesty it was so unbearable if I had a gun I would have shot myself in the head to make it stop. A year later I still have tinnitus! Doctors have no clue and don't really seem to care. I have to sleep with my TV volume on 50 just to try and drown the noise. During the day (most days anyway) it's tolerable because of other noises masking the sound. Night time is terrible! I have noticed that it is much louder when I am extremely stressed which is almost always! OTC medicines do not help! I also notice that a prescription medicine I was prescribed about 6 months ago (Adderall) makes it louder. I am so sick of trying to live with this condition with no answers. At least I know I am not alone! I am sorry you guys have it to, but at least we can identify and share.

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