Causes of Tinnitus
Subjective tinnitus is often caused by problems with the cochlea in the inner ear area. This is generally associated with aging and exposure to excessively loud noise over a long period.
Some types of drugs are also ototoxic and can cause damage to the inner ear. Examples are aspirin, ibuprofen, and some types of antibiotics. Some other possible causes are:
- Head and neck injuries
- Ear infection
- Foreign objects or earwax that touch the eardrum
- Problems with the middle ear (especially the Eustachian tube )
- Problems with the TMJ ( temporomandibular joint )
- Stiffness of the bones within the middle of the ear
- Trauma to the brain
Objective tinnitus is generally caused by problems with the muscles or blood vessels in the head and neck area. An example is ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Objective tinnitus occurs in less than one percent of cases.
The risk of tinnitus may increase in certain people, such as:
- Exposed to loud noises, for example from work, watching concerts, using headphones, near explosion sites, and so on
- Have a hearing loss
- Male genital
- Old age
Diseases that cause tinnitus complaints are quite diverse. Therefore, tinnitus sufferers require a complete and in-depth evaluation so that doctors are assisted in determining the cause of the complaint.
Tinnitus often coexists with hearing loss, so your doctor may ask questions about the hearing loss. Other things that may be related and need to be explored are the possibility of vertigo, ear pain, discharge from the ear, or disease of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Medication history, especially ototoxic ones should also be considered.
Furthermore, a thorough physical examination of the ears, head, neck, and chest is required, as well as an examination of hearing function. A complete blood count can be done to assess many things, including the possibility of syphilis.
In some cases, autoimmune tests and thyroid function tests may be necessary. While imaging tests with MRI can help look for tumors or blood vessel abnormalities that cause tinnitus.
The sound heard by people with tinnitus can be continuous or intermittent, in one or both ears, low or high pitched. Often people with tinnitus describe the sound they hear as a ringing sound, but it can also be in the form of whistling, chirping, “clicking” sounds, squealing, whispering, rumbling, buzzing, throbbing, whooshing, and even musical.
This sound can fluctuate, sometimes loudly and softly. Not infrequently, the symptoms of tinnitus are more felt at night or when the surroundings are quiet. Tinnitus can be accompanied by complaints of hearing loss.
Treatment of tinnitus largely depends on the cause. In general, if there is an ear infection, it needs to be treated properly. Stop medications, especially those that are ototoxic. Then, deal with issues related to TMJ.
In case of ear lesions, surgery can be performed. Electrical stimulation of the inner ear using a cochlear implant can be performed, but the results are mixed. Reducing stress and anxiety in people with tinnitus can be useful. Often the stress and anxiety that comes with tinnitus are more disturbing than the tinnitus itself.