If you regularly experience the sensation of ringing or whistling sounds in your ears you have a very common condition called tinnitus. Tinnitus affects approximately 50 million Americans and for most people it is just an annoyance and not a serious problem. However, for some tinnitus can cause problems like sleeplessness and difficulty concentrating.
The Causes of Tinnitus
While tinnitus is sometimes associated with loss of hearing, many people with tinnitus experience no hearing loss and some may even become more sensitive to sound.
The most common cause of tinnitus is hearing that has been damaged by exposure to loud noise, which can cause permanent damage to the cochlea in the inner ear. Because even a single exposure to loud noise can damage the ear and cause tinnitus, it's important to protect your hearing when you're near loud music, power equipment, gunshots, aircraft engines and other loud noises.
Other common causes include:
- Earwax buildup of wax and ear infections
- Many drugs (Over 200 prescription and nonprescription drugs list tinnitus as a potential side-effect)
- The aging process
- Meniere's disease
- Head and neck injuries
- Cardiovascular disease, circulatory problems and high blood pressure
- Stress and fatigue
If you're concerned about tinnitus or have other hearing problems, speak with your doctor.