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 and transformed into electrical energy for the brain to perceive.

  • Blood flow and/or tumors: 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, meaning that they have increased blood flow within them.
  • Muscle spasms: 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 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: Damage to the vestibulocochlear nerve responsible for transmitting sound from the ear to the brain may cause tinnitus. Causes may include drug toxicity or a tumor (for example, acoustic neuroma).
  • Meniere's disease, which is associated with hearing loss and vertigo also may cause tinnitus.
  • Aging: As people age, their hearing may decrease and there can be associated tinnitus.
  • Otosclerosis: 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. Examples of barotrauma include pressure changes from scuba diving or changes in air pressure when flying.
Return to Tinnitus

See what others are saying

Comment from: GoVegan, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 11

Vitamin B6 toxicity caused my tinnitus. Four years ago after taking a multivitamin with a mere 2 mg of B6, nerve-related symptoms appeared. They progressively got worse and worse as misdiagnosis prevailed. Until my B6 levels were checked and found to be over quadruple normal range I suffered increasing nerve damage. The tinnitus began six months after my first symptoms. It is still present all day, every day.

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Comment from: 412mrg, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: November 17

A fire alarm in a senior citizen care caused my tinnitus. I was a fire fighter answering a call to this care center, and after I came out of the structure I had a humming in my ears because it was so loud in the structure. They was 6 years ago and it is still with me, it changes octaves for short periods of time but I dread it is with me for life.

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