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Is it Normal to Have Occasional Tinnitus?

a hand cupped to the ear of a brown haired woman

Tinnitus is commonly known as the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. About 15-20% of people are affected by it, and it is not even a condition but rather a symptom of an underlying condition. If you have tinnitus, you may hear a ringing or roaring that does not come from your surrounding area as no one else can hear it but you. Sometimes, that sound keeps up with your heartbeat or the pace of your breathing. It may be a constant ringing or whooshing. It may come and go. It is a different experience for everyone that has it.

Types of tinnitus

There are two types of tinnitus. One is called pulsatile tinnitus. This type is typically caused by sounds created by muscle movements near the ear, changes in the ear canal, or blood flow problems in the face or neck. You might hear sounds like your own pulse or the contractions of your muscles.

The other type of tinnitus is called non-pulsatile tinnitus. It is caused by problems in the nerves that are involved with hearing. You may be able to hear these sounds in either one ear or both. At times it is commonly described as coming from inside the head.

Within those two types of tinnitus, there are two other types. Subjective tinnitus is tinnitus only you can hear. It is the most common type and is typically caused by ear problems in the outer, middle or inner ear. Then there is objective tinnitus. This type can be heard by your doctor when he or she gives you an exam. This kind of tinnitus is extremely rare, and it can be caused by a blood vessel problem, a middle ear bone condition or muscle contractions.

Symptoms of this condition

If you experience tinnitus, you may also experience symptoms of ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking, hissing or humming in your ears. They act as phantom noises in your ear. Their pitch varies from a low roar to a high squeal. You may hear it in one ear or both ears.

Causes of tinnitus

Tinnitus can be caused by several things. It could be a buildup of earwax. There are medicines, particularly certain antibiotics or copious amounts of aspirin. Drinking too much alcohol or caffeinated drinks could also be a cause. Ear infections, eardrum rupture, dental and other problems affecting the mouth, injuries like whiplash or a direct blow to the ear or head, rapid changes in environmental pressure, severe weight loss from malnutrition or excessive dieting, repeated exercise with the neck in a hyperextended position, blood flow problems, nerve problems and other diseases can all cause tinnitus.

Sometimes you experience tinnitus because of old age. The older you get, the worse your hearing becomes. This typically starts around 60 years old. You can also experience tinnitus because of extended exposure to loud noise. Loud noises from heavy equipment, chain saws and guns are the most common causes of tinnitus. If you listen to music on an MP3 player or iPod at high volumes for an extended period of time, you could also get tinnitus. Going to a loud concert can also cause short-term tinnitus.

Tinnitus can also be caused by earwax blockage. It can be a bit confusing because it is commonly known that earwax is a good thing to have in your ear, and it is. It keeps your ear canal protected against dirt and bacteria. The problem lies when too much earwax builds up, making it hard to wash away naturally. When earwax cannot easily escape the ear canal, it can cause temporary hearing loss.

Lastly, ear bone changes can cause tinnitus. Stiffening of the bones in your middle ear can affect your hearing. Typically, this condition is hereditary and tends to run in families.

Treatment

Some conditions go away on their own without the help of tinnitus treatment methods. If the problem persists, make sure that you see a doctor as soon as possible. You may not be cured, but you will have better guidance on how to live with tinnitus. If you develop tinnitus after an upper respiratory infection, like the cold or flu virus, and your tinnitus does not clear up within a week, then you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. You should also see your doctor if you have tinnitus that happens suddenly without any apparent cause or if you have hearing loss or dizziness.

There are many causes of tinnitus, so it is entirely normal. We at Independence Hearing will be able to use our expertise to help you navigate. Call us at 772-210-1800 for more information.