Common Causes Of Ringing In The Ear

There are many different causes of ringing in the ear, because there are two types of tinnitus with different mechanisms. If the sound can be heard by other people it’s called an objective form of ear tinnitus, but if only you can hear it it’s known as subjective.

If you have an objective condition, you may be hearing a pulsing, cracking or hissing sound due to muscle spasms or increase blood turbulence around the ear.

On the other hand, the mechanisms of subjective ear tinnitus are often obscure and difficult to explain. Broadly, they are related to either some form of damage in the auditory memory parts of the brain, or have some form of psychosomatic onset.

Tinnitus gets literally “planted” in your brain. As the brain initially becomes aware of this noise (and does not like it), later it becomes accustomed to having the noise around. Your brain starts to feel that this sound is necessary for survival and goes looking for it, as soon as the conscious mind notices it is not there.  The brain thus creates a “sound loop” in its neural pathways that keeps the tinnitus there all the time.

What Causes Ringing In The Ear

In general, ringing in the ear can be a result of several conditions:

    • Mild to moderate hearing loss – mostly age related (a condition called presbycusis), where our natural  ability to hear deteriorates after the age of about 60.
    • Daily exposure to increased noise levels – such as a noisy work environment, musicians, uncontrolled use of MP3s, iPods and other personal stereos. When played loudly for a long time, they can cause permanent damage, resulting in ringing in ear (younger folks, you should really watch out for this!).  In recent years an increasing number of people have been reported to be suffering from ringing in left ear or right ear through using certain types of mobile phones.
    • It is the most common  disability among Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans; ringing in ear in this case is a result of long-term exposure to noise (loud explosions etc.).
    • An extensive growth of bone near the middle ear – a medical condition called otosclerosis - can cause a ringing sound in one ear.
    • Ménière’s disease - a disorder of the  inner ear that causes spontaneous vertigo – may be also associated with ear tinnitus as one of the side effects.
    • Stress and depression can make the intensity of ringing in the ear considerably worse in loud environments, especially if you suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
    • Head or neck injuries can be  responsible for ringing in one ear only.
    • Certain cancerous or  noncancerous head/neck tumors that develop on the cranial nerve,  which controls the balance and hearing. They can put pressure on blood vessels, generally causing tinnitus only in one ear. Your doctor will be  able to reassure you, but this is an uncommon cause of tinnitus and another  reason for your ringing in the ear is much more likely.
    • Malformation of capillaries, causing ringing in left ear or right ear only.

Less Common Causes Of Ear Tinnitus

There are other medical conditions linked to ear tinnitus, such as high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, TMJ disorders, atherosclerosis, or turbulent blood flow caused by a narrow artery or vein in your neck and so on.

A number of prescription or OTC medications are also known for causing or aggravating the ringing sound in ear, such as antibiotics, cancer medications, diuretics, malaria medications, or aspirin taken in uncommonly high doses (12 or more a day). Ear tinnitus caused in this way is generally temporary and will probably disappear as soon as you stop taking these drugs.

To conclude the lenghty list of possible triggers of ringing ears, there are numerous psychosomatic impacts that also play an important role in the course of this condition. That means, that long after the physical causes of tinnitus have healed in your ear, the brain will continue to find the noise. Stress, depression, panic disorder, and anxiety are all like fertilized soil to this condition.

Is It Possible To Live With Ringing Ears?

Obviously, ringing or buzzing or any other type of permanent high-pitched sound in the ear can considerably affect your quality of life. You may also suffer from one or more of the general side effects of ear tinnitus: sleep disorders, fatigue, memory problems, depression or anxiety attacks.

On the other hand, these side effects are very subjective. You might even suffer from some of those listed here without ever considering that they might be due to ringing in ear.

The good news is that your brain has the ability to filter out the ringing sound from your conscious mind. Many people with a mild form of tinnitus are able to have a fairly normal life for decades without thinking of trying to cure it, or even realizing there are effective strategies to help them cope with the condition.

The bad news is that the intensity of the sound may get worse over time. Moreover, you can’t really enjoy true silence. Also, constant, mild tinnitus creates negative emotional impact on your immune system and your body in general.

Take a look at various treatment options available to cope with this condition. There are a few to choose from – you just need to keep trying what works, including certain personal/emotional/ lifestyle corrections. There’s a very good chance you’ll have a genuinely normal life again. Just by correcting the emotional aspect of yourself, you can considerably increase chances of gaining control over the volume of your tinnitus, and gradually reduce the severity of your condition.

One of the most successful, well-regarded complete holistic programs developed by R. Coleman, a former chronic tinnitus sufferer is based on the brain retraining therapy. Because tinnitus is a noise that is “heard” in the conscious portion of your brain, it can always be altered to some degree. Using this program, there is a good chance of changing your interpretation of the sound you hear. In most cases it helped reduce the volume of the tinnitus and in many cases eliminate it completely.

You can visit the official web site of this program here.

Further reading:

Life With Tinnitus – 10 Principles

How To Choose A Suitable Treatment

Top 3 Supplements – A Natural Cure For Tinnitus?