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Jun 28 2012

What Causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus affects millions of people and certainly can be annoying, but what causes it?  And can it be cured or prevented?

Unfortunately, tinnitus can be caused by a wide range of different things – but there are some which are much more common causes than others.  More than any other factor, damage to the ear is the most common cause of tinnitus.

Inner ear damage

This is the number one cause, estimated to be the reason behind around 70-80% of all cases of tinnitus in the UK.  There are a number of things that can damage the delicate parts of the inner ear though – ranging from exposure to loud noises (like music or machinery) to infections and injuries (e.g. from playing a sport or an accident).

Sometimes, in older people, tinnitus can be caused by age-related hearing loss or prolonged exposure to loud noises (such as what may be caused by working in a factory or from a drill).  While in younger sufferers, tinnitus is often caused by loud music.  People of all ages are equally susceptible to damage to the ear caused by injury or infections.

Loud noises, one of the main causes of inner ear damage, can cause both temporary and more long term tinnitus.  While a short exposure to loud noise (e.g. from a loud speaker at a festival) may result in some of the symptoms of tinnitus for a few hours or days, longer term tinnitus caused by noise-related injuries is often from much longer periods of exposure to such sounds.  That said, in some cases, even short term exposure to very loud noises can trigger cases of tinnitus that can last for a long time.

Other common causes

Aside from the most common cause (damage to the ear from noise, infections or injury), there are other factors that can trigger cases of tinnitus – both temporary and more long term.  Middle ear (rather than inner ear) infections can also cause tinnitus, but this is less common than the latter.

A build up of ear wax can cause tinnitus too – but thankfully this is about the easiest to cure.  Other relatively common causes include anemia, a perforated eardrum and a condition called ‘glue ear’.

There are also some more complex causes that can lead to tinnitus – such as Ménière’s disease and Paget’s disease too.

Identifying the root cause is an important step to finding an effective cure, and while you should also seek professional advice, a number of people have found home remedies to be effective at relieving or curing tinnitus caused by a range of different factors.

Less common causes of tinnitus

As the NHS website explains, there are a number of much less common factors that can cause tinnitus – and I would recommend that you always speak to a medical professional before embarking on any home remedy solution (although there are many that have worked for those who have found conventional medicine to provide an ineffective tinnitus cure).

Head injuries (as well as ear injuries) have been linked to cases of tinnitus in some patients, while some other cases are caused by small growths within the ear (certainly something to see a doctor about).  People with high blood pressure have also reported suffering with tinnitus symptoms, and it can also be triggered by solvent, alcohol or drug use.

Is there a cure?

Please remember: if you are suffering with the symptoms of tinnitus is is always advisable to visit your doctor for a thorough and professional analysis before trying anything else.

But for those who have tried conventional medicine or any other remedies (sound tapes, etc.) and found them ineffective, I have also written about some of the more effective natural tinnitus cures and treatments here.  Many people have found these to partly or even completely relieve their tinnitus – even in severe cases and where the cause if unconfirmed.

Click here for more information about some effective tinnitus cures.

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