Having tinnitus is not pleasant, especially if you are working in the music industry. You have to rely on your hearing a lot for that. Although some people still take it as lightly as dealing with an itch in your ear, some tinnitus cases can actually be pretty serious.
Of course, before finding a way to treat tinnitus, the first thing that we have to do is to learn more about tinnitus. This also includes figuring out what may cause tinnitus in the first place.
The trouble with tinnitus:
At first, it starts with that mysterious sound in your ear. If you tend to listen to loud music a lot, perhaps that is your first best guess as the cause. However, it is not the case. Some people never listen to music too loud, yet they can still experience tinnitus.
Although tinnitus may occur, that does not mean that every one with it suffers from the loss of their hearing ability. In fact, one in three sufferers does not have any hearing problems despite having tinnitus in their ear as well.
So, what may cause tinnitus?
The cause of tinnitus:
Although some people still mistake it as the result of listening to loud music way too much, the cause of tinnitus has not been really clear. One cause is from how one’s brain misinterpret what the ear actually hears. Based on the types of tinnitus, the cause may be different.
This is the kind of tinnitus that only you can hear. There are some nerve signals that can get misinterpreted by your brain as “sounds”. This type of tinnitus is the most common that people have. Although hearing loss is often associated as the cause for this and the loud music is to blame, there are actually other factors that play the part:
– Conductive hearing loss: aside from the loud music, this can also be caused by external ear infection, acoustic shock, or middle ear effusion.
– Sensorineural hearing loss: excessively loud noise (like the drilling sound in the construction area) can be the cause. Other factors include: Meniere’s disease, acoustic neuroma, endolymphatic hydrops, ototoxic medications (please check the medications you are recently on, like aspirin or ibuprofen), and mercury or lead poisoning.
– Neurological disorders: a head injury is not only fatal to the brain, but also to your ears. Multiple sclerosis and Arnold-Chiari malformation are also known to be the cause for tinnitus.
– Metabolic disorders: this includes thyroid disease, hyperlipidemia, lack of vitamin B 12, and anemia caused by iron deficiency.
– Psychiatric disorders: clinical depression and and anxiety disorders can also cause subjective tinnitus. No wonder, in some cases, that “phantom sounds” might be part of their hallucination.
– Other factors: fibromyalgia, vasculitis, muscle tension, Lyme disease, and sleep paralysis can also be the cause. If you have a migraine, you might also want to watch out with the possibility of getting subjective tinnitus as the side effect.
Different from subjective tinnitus, it is easier to detect objective tinnitus. Just go to your doctor and ask them to check your ear with their stethoscope. If they can hear any ringing, hissing, roaring, buzzing, clicking, or swishing in your ear, then you are positively diagnosed with objective tinnitus.
What can cause objective tinnitus?
It can be caused by a vascular condition. Muscle spasms in your middle ear also results in objective tinnitus. That phantom sound that can be heard outside the ear is called Spontaneous Otoacoustic Emissions or SOAEs for short. Most people are not aware that they have this, although about 1 – 9% complain that having SOAEs often distract them from work and identifying other real sounds with their ears.
Other factors that may cause tinnitus:
– An ear wax build-up blocking your ear.
– An perforated eardrum. (This is why standing too close to the giant speakerbox during music concert, especially heavy metal, is really dangerous.)
– Neck injury. (Sometimes a head injury is also followed by this, depending on the fall.)
– Otosclerosis, which is an extra bone growing abnormally in the middle ear. Since it is not supposed to be there, it causes hearing loss. It is also a hereditary condition.
– Cardiovascular diseases.
– A possible tumor.
– Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ), which also causes a person to have a difficulty in chewing their foods.
As people grow older, they tend to get tinnitus easier. It can get even worse if you smoke, drink alcohol, and drink caffeine (like coffee and tea) way too much. If you do not take good care of yourself, stress and fatigue can also worsen the case of tinnitus.
What to do once the cause for tinnitus is discovered:
Based on the list of what may cause your tinnitus above, consult your doctor for further medical treatment. In the meantime, look after yourself well by avoiding smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and caffeinated drinks, and getting more and proper rest when you are tired.