Tinnitus is not a disease conventional medicine can treat but a symptom of changes in the auditory system. Decades of research into the cause of tinnitus indicates that, in most cases, tinnitus directly relates to a loss of auditory output due to damaged hair cells in the inner ear. The most common cause of this damage is loud noise; once the hairs are damaged, they cannot regenerate.
Medical professionals are still trying to discover how and why tinnitus affects some people with noise-induced hearing loss but not others.
However, it is widely accepted that tinnitus symptoms can be caused by several conditions, including the following:
1) Earwax Build Up
If sound becomes muffled in one or both ears and you feel a fullness in the ear, you might have ear wax buildup. Other symptoms of compacted earwax include earache, pain and — you guessed it — tinnitus. If excess earwax is the cause of your tinnitus, the symptoms should ease and disappear once the blockage is treated.
We offer quick and painless microsuction earwax removal in Eltham, Maidstone, Broadstairs, Northfleet, Chatham, Croydon, and Ramsgate, and we can also come to your home.
2) Age-Related Hearing Loss
The prevalence of tinnitus symptoms increases with age-related hearing loss, called presbycusis, with around one in five people aged between 55 and 65 experiencing some type of tinnitus symptoms. Tinnitus is closely linked with hearing loss, and around 80% of
patients with severe hearing loss will also experience tinnitus symptoms. This is why hearing aids can often help to reduce tinnitus symptoms.
The severity of each condition isn’t mutually exclusive. An individual may have severe hearing loss but only experience intermittent ringing noises in quiet environments. Similarly, another person may have good hearing but unbearable torturous tinnitus.
3) Noise Exposure
Permanent hearing damage and high-frequency tinnitus can result from exposure to loud noises. If you work or have worked in noisy environments — such as construction sites, factories, and loud music venues — where you experience high-decibel sounds from industrial power tools, jet aircraft, gunfire, etc., it’s critical to protect your hearing from further damage.
The best way to stop tinnitus symptoms from worsening and prevent noise-induced hearing loss is to wear custom-made ear plugs or ear protection.
4) The Autonomic Nervous System
The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) regulates our internal organs and some of our muscles. We’re often unaware of this because it does so involuntarily. Every minute of the day, our hearts beat faster or slower on autopilot without us consciously realising it.
This is why, although it is not a cause of tinnitus, the ANS also influences how people with tinnitus perceive its severity and how much attention they place on it. If you can train your brain to ignore tinnitus, it will often only be perceptible in the background. But if the tinnitus becomes a high priority (for instance, if it’s perceived as a threat), then the brain learns to focus on the sound, even when there is other background noise — even loud noise.
When this happens, the limbic system (the part of the brain governing emotional response) produces a negative reaction to tinnitus symptoms, resulting in anxiety or stress. This creates a vicious ongoing cycle, where the tinnitus leads to stress — making the symptoms worse because you’re stressed about them! Tinnitus hearing aids that provide tinnitus masking are a well-known treatment and one of the best ways to break this cycle.
Whatever the underlying cause of your tinnitus, typically, it should be treatable, allowing us to alleviate or even eliminate your symptoms. We recommend booking a tinnitus test to get an accurate diagnosis, advice, and support on the next steps,