Tinnitus refers to a medical phenomenon where a person hears constant buzzing, ring, whizzing and whistling in his ear all day long without any external source of that noise being present. The noise is always there, driving the person crazy, making him wonder if he is losing it as nobody around him seems to hear those noises. If left medically undiagnosed, one can easily fall into the belief that there is something wrong with their head. However, tinnitus is a real medical phenomenon and has been observed to occur in every 1 out of 5 people, at least.
There is no fixed number of how many people actually have this problem as it sometimes is a temporary condition and goes away naturally after some time. However, sometimes, it might become persistent and rather troubling.
In our ear, there are tiny hair that oscillate back and forth, with sound waves. and when they move they produce an electrical signal through the auditory nerves. Our brain receives these signals and interprets sound. Now when there is nerve damage or the hair inside your ear are damaged in any way, they will keep sending signals to the brain without any actual sound causing the movement in these tiny hairs. Tinnitus is caused by this inner ear damage. There are many causes, which can offset this phenomenon. However, the most common one is constant exposure to loud noises for a long period.
Most common cause of Tinnitus
- Old age – As we age, we tend to lose our hearing ability and this hearing loss often leads to tinnitus
- Too much exposure to loud noise – The most common cause of tinnitus is constant exposure to loud noises. People, who work in fields and are surrounded by the loud noise of machines and equipment all day, are more likely to complain about the ringing sensation in their ear even when they are in quiet. In addition, listening to too much music on full volume all day, playing video games with extreme audio, and staying out in loud and crowded places for long can also lead to the development of tinnitus. Going to concerts, parties can cause temporary ringing and buzzing sensations as well. However, if such habits persist for a long time, it can turn into a permanent problem, and in some cases may also lead to hearing loss.
- Too much accumulation of earwax – The main purpose of earwax is to protect our ears from bacteria and dirt. It traps the small dust particles and makes our ear inhabitable for bacteria. However, it needs regular cleaning. When there is too much earwax accumulated in the ear, it puts unnecessary pressure on tiny hair present inside ears. aIf left unattended, the accumulate becomes difficult to simply wash away and causes continuous tingling sensation and irritation in our eardrum, which can cause tinnitus.
- Abnormal growth of ear bone – Over the time, the inner bone structure of our ear keeps changing. If there is an abnormal growth in one of the bones in the middle ear, it causes Otosclerosis and affects hearing. It also causes balance problems and one may develop tinnitus because of it as well. This abnormal growth in ear bone is sometimes, hereditary and runs in the family.
- High stress and alcohol – Stress is noted to worsen the condition of tinnitus. It affects the blood flow in the inner ear and the constant fluctuations disrupt the hearing ability, sending false signals to the brain. Same goes for alcohol and caffeine as alcohol swells the blood vessels, increasing the blood flow in the inner ear, which may make one experience ringing and buzzing sensations.