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Causes of Tinnitus


Dr. Kent

Although the exact mechanism that causes tinnitus is not known, there are several conditions of which tinnitus is a symptom. Tinnitus has been associated with many health conditions ranging from noise-induced hearing loss to systemic disorders, such as diabetes and thyroid problems. Other conditions commonly linked with tinnitus include:

  • Hearing loss due to aging
  • Ear and sinus infections
  • Ménière’s disease
  • Blockage of the ear canal
  • Perforated ear drum
  • Fluid trapped in the middle ear
  • Otosclerosis
  • Allergies
  • Certain medications, such as anti-inflammatories, sedatives, antidepressants, and some antibiotics
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Anemia
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Vascular disorders
  • Head or neck aneurysms
  • Hormonal changes in women
  • Trauma to the head or neck, and
  • Neck misalignment

Pulsatile tinnitus is a rare type of tinnitus that sounds like a rhythmic pulsing in the ear, usually in time with your heartbeat. A doctor may be able to hear it by pressing a stethoscope against your neck or by placing a tiny microphone inside the ear canal. This kind of tinnitus is most often caused by fluid accumulation or infection in the middle ear space, but can also be a sign of problems with blood flow in the head or neck. Pulsatile tinnitus also may be caused by brain tumors or abnormalities in brain structure.

Keep in mind some people develop tinnitus for no obvious reason. The great majority of the time, tinnitus isn’t a sign of a serious health problem.

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