Ringing in the Ears
Tinnitus is the perception of abnormal ear or head noises. Tinnitus is unpleasant enough itself. It is also sometimes a symptom of other problems, including hearing loss, tumors, and narrowing of the blood vessels.
Noises may be high pitched and “ringing,” or sound more like a clicking. Some tinnitus is pulsatile. This means that it may be caused by the flow of blood that accompanies each heartbeat. This type of tinnitus is a result of the narrowing of the blood vessels.
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Many diseases and conditions are associated with tinnitus, including:
- Hearing loss, the most frequent cause of persistent tinnitus
- Exposure to loud noises
- Wax or a foreign body in the ear canal
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder
- Ear infection
- Fluid in the ear
- Certain medicines (see below)
- Ruptured membrane in the ear
- Meniere's disease
- High or low blood pressure
- Injury to the head or neck
- Blood vessel disorders, such as an aneurysm or hardening of the arteries
- Thyroid problems
Occasional episodes of tinnitus lasting at most a few minutes are quite common in normal people, especially after exposure to loud noises.
Last reviewedSeptember 2012by Kari Kassir, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.