Tinnitus or ringing in the ears varies greatly in quality and frequency. It can be intermittent or continuous, heard in one or both ears, and sound like a low roar, a high squeal, buzzing, or many other sounds. Persistent tinnitus lasts more than six months and is commonly associated with the hearing system. Primary tinnitus occurs when no cause can be determined other than hearing loss. Secondary tinnitus occurs when there is a specific underlying cause. Some of the secondary causes of tinnitus include ear wax, middle ear infection, otosclerosis, muscle spasms, damage to the tiny sensory hair cells in the inner ear, excessive noise exposure, and medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and certain diuretics and antibiotics. It can also occur due to damage from other uncommon disorders including damage from head trauma or a benign growth on the hearing nerve called an acoustic neuroma. Pulsatile tinnitus sounds like a pulsing or heartbeat in your ear and may be an indicator of cardiovascular disease, arterial narrowing, or a vascular tumor in your head, neck, or ear. If you have this type of tinnitus, you should consult a physician as soon as possible for an evaluation. Tinnitus can be worsened by other medical conditions and lifestyle factors such as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation, stress, alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.
If you are experiencing a noise in your ears that persists, contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our otolaryngologists.