What is Tinnitus? Causes and Treatment


There are lots of people who have tinnitus. Tinnitus is one of the most widespread medical diseases in the world, affecting around 75 million individuals worldwide. Although anyone can develop this illness, particular populations are at a higher risk of exposure because of age, leisure activities, and workplace dangers. Discover the specifics of tinnitus in this article, including its causes and available treatments. For more information, keep reading!

Tinnitus Definition

Consider tinnitus as ringing in your ears if you’re wondering what it is. You could hear

  • Ringing
  • Chirping
  • Whistling
  • Buzzing
  • Any other noises

Low background noise may exacerbate the problem. The noise level might fluctuate and can be either constant or sporadic. As a result, you might become more conscious of it at night while attempting to sleep in a calm space. Rarely, a condition known as pulsatile tinnitus may cause you to hear your heart beating.

Tinnitus may be inconvenient and uncomfortable, but it usually indicates nothing severe. And while tinnitus can get worse with age, most people can get better with treatment. Tinnitus is a sign of other conditions rather than an actual ailment, such as:

  • An ear infection
  • Loss of hearing
  • Injured ears
  • Earwax clogging
  • Specific medicines
  • Loud noise exposure
  • Being pregnant
  • Blood flow issues
  • Tumors in the brain or around the ear
  • An overactive thyroid
  • Anemia
  • Meniere’s condition

Types of Tinnitus

  • Subjective Tinnitus: The most typical form of the condition, this type only you can hear. It may result from outer, inner, or middle ear issues. It can be brought on by issues with the hearing (auditory) nerve and the auditory pathways, the part of the brain that interprets nerve signals as sound.
  • Objective Tinnitus: During an examination, your doctor might detect this kind of tinnitus. It’s an unusual type of tinnitus that muscular contractions, blood vessel issues, or problems with the middle ear bones can bring on.

Symptoms Tinnitus

Even though no external sound is present, tinnitus is most frequently described as ringing in the ears. However, tinnitus can also cause additional phantom sounds associated with the ear, such as:

  • Buzzing
  • Roaring
  • Clicking
  • Hissing
  • Humming

Subjective tinnitus, or tinnitus that only you can hear, is the most common type. Tinnitus may affect one or both of your ears; the sounds can be anything from a quiet roar to a high shriek. Sometimes the sound can be so loud that it makes it difficult for you to focus or hear outside noise. Tinnitus might be constant, or it might come and go.

Pulsatile tinnitus is the medical word for this. Rarely, tinnitus may occasionally mimic a pulsing or whooshing pattern and is frequently timed to your heartbeat. If your tinnitus is pulsatile, your doctor may be able to hear it while performing an examination (objective tinnitus).

When to see a doctor

Tinnitus doesn’t disturb some people. Others find that tinnitus interferes with their regular activities. Visit your doctor if your tinnitus is bothering you.

If either of the following applies to you:

  • You experience tinnitus following an upper respiratory infection, such as a cold, and your tinnitus doesn’t go away in a week.

Consult your physician as soon as you can if

  • You experience tinnitus together with hearing loss or vertigo.
  • Your tinnitus is causing you to feel depressed or anxious.

Causes Tinnitus

Numerous medical problems can either induce or exacerbate tinnitus. A precise cause is frequently never discovered.

Common causes of tinnitus

Tinnitus is frequently brought on by one of the following:

  • The small, sensitive hair cells in your inner ear, or cochlea, vibrate in reaction to sound waves. Electrical signals are set off by this movement and travel up the nerve from your ear to your brain (auditory nerve). These signals are interpreted as sound by your brain.
  • The hairs in your inner ear may twist or break as you age or are repeatedly exposed to loud noises, which can “leak” random electrical impulses to your brain and cause tinnitus.
  • Your ear canals may get blocked due to an accumulation of fluid (ear infection), earwax, debris, or other foreign things. It is an obstacle that changes the pressure inside your ear and might cause tinnitus.
  • Injury to the head or neck can impact the inner ear, hearing nerves, or hearing-related brain functions. Following such accidents, tinnitus is generally only present in one ear.
  • Numerous medications have the potential to cause or worsen tinnitus. As these medications are taken in higher quantities, tinnitus frequently gets worse. The irritating noise typically stops after you stop taking these medications.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), specific antibiotics, water pills (diuretics), antimalarial medications, and antidepressants are some medicines linked to tinnitus.

Other Causes of Tinnitus

Other ear issues, long-term health issues, and illnesses or traumas that damage the nerves in your ear or the hearing center in your brain are less frequent causes of tinnitus.

  • Meniere’s condition: Tinnitus, an inner ear illness that may be brought on by aberrant inner ear fluid pressure, can be a precursor to Meniere’s disease.
  • Eustachian tube impairment:  The tube in your ear that connects your middle ear to your upper throat is constantly extended in this illness, making your ear feel full.
  • Changes in ear bones: Hearing loss and tinnitus may result from otosclerosis, a stiffening of the bones of the middle ear. This disorder, brought on by aberrant bone formation, frequently runs in families.
  • Inner ear spasms of the muscles: Tinnitus, hearing loss, and a sense of ear fullness can all be caused by the spasm of inner ear muscles. It may occasionally occur for no apparent reason, but neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis may also bring it on.
  • Disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ): Tinnitus can be brought on by issues with the TMJ, which is the joint on each side of your head just in front of your ears where your lower jawbone meets your skull.
  • Tumors of the head and neck: The cranial nerve that controls balance and hearing and runs from the brain to the inner ear can develop a noncancerous (benign) tumor called an acoustic neuroma. Tinnitus may also be brought on by other head, neck, or brain tumors.
  • Issues with blood vessels: Blood can move through your veins and arteries more forcefully if you have blood vessel problems, including atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, or kinked or deformed blood vessels. These modifications to blood flow have the potential to either create or exacerbate tinnitus.
  • Other long-term illnesses: Tinnitus has been linked to several illnesses, including diabetes, thyroid issues, headaches, anemia, and autoimmune diseases, including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Treatment of Tinnitus

Whether an underlying medical issue brings on your tinnitus will determine how you should be treated. Treating the underlying reason can help your doctor lessen your symptoms. Examples comprise:

  • Earwax removal: Tinnitus symptoms might be lessened by clearing an earwax obstruction.
  • Treating a blood vessel condition: To treat underlying blood vessel disorders, medication, surgery, or other procedures may be necessary.
  • Hearing issue: If noise-induced or age-related hearing loss is the root cause of tinnitus, wearing hearing aids may help relieve your symptoms.
  • Changing your medicine: Your doctor may advise stopping, lowering, or changing the medication you’re currently taking if it appears to be the source of your tinnitus.


Medicines cannot treat tinnitus, although they sometimes lessen its symptoms’ intensity or side effects. Your doctor may suggest medication to treat an underlying problem or to help address the anxiety and despair that frequently accompany tinnitus to help relieve your symptoms.

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