Most Common Causes of Tinnitus

The causes of tinnitus are extremely varied, explaining in part why the condition can be so difficult to treat. Tinnitus isnít technically a disease, but a symptom of an underlying cause. In some cases this cause can be determined, and treatment of the cause will stop the ringing. But in other cases the cause is less obvious and a number of different techniques should be used to manage the problem.

Here is a quick guide to some of the most common causes of tinnitus:

Nerve Damage

One of the most common causes of tinnitus is damage to the nerves inside the inner ear. The way the ear works means that sounds pass from the outer ear, through the middle ear and on to the inner ear. The inner ear contains the nerves that send these sounds to your brain to be interpreted. When the nerves get damaged, unusual impulses can be sent, causing the brain to think that there is sound. This explains the various types of sound that may be heard as a result of tinnitus.

Hearing Loss Through Aging

Hearing loss often happens as we age (known as presbycusis), starting at age 60. This can cause tinnitus when the hearing nerves become less sensitive.

Exposure to Loud Noise

In younger people, a more common reason for nerve damage in the ear is exposure to loud noise. Have you ever been to a loud concert or bar and had a ringing in your ears the next day? This is a temporary type of tinnitus that usually goes away. However, long-term exposure can lead to a permanent ringing. This can occur due to loud portable music playing devices, or the sound of an explosion, for example.


Although earwax is a natural way of protecting the ear, sometimes we can accumulate too much. When this happens, it can cause hearing problems or a ringing in the ears.

Blood Vessel Disorders

Blood vessel disorders are less common causes of tinnitus (a type known as pulsatile tinnitus). These disorders can result from a number of conditions including tumors in the head and neck, high blood pressure (hypertension), malformation of capillaries, and atherosclerosis.


Some medications are known to either cause tinnitus or make it worse. In these cases your doctor may change the medication youíre on. Some of the known medications to have this effect include: diuretics, antibiotics, aspirin, quinine-based medication, and cancer medications.

These are just some of the most common causes of tinnitus, but it can be caused by many other problems including depression, head injuries and more. This is why it’s so important that you seek an official diagnosis: your tinnitus could be a sign that something else is wrong with your health.

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