Tinnitus (pronounced ti-ni-tis) or ringing in the ears is the sensation of hearing ringing, buzzing, hissing, chirping, whistling, or other sounds. The noise can be intermittent or continuous, and can vary in loudness. It is often worse when background noise is low so you may be most aware of it at night when you’re trying to fall asleep in a quiet room. In rare cases, the sound beats in sync with your heart (pulsatile tinnitus).
- Blockages of the ear due to a buildup of wax, an ear infection, or rarely, a benign tumor of the nerve that allows us to hear (auditory nerve).
- Certain drugs — most notably aspirin, several types of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, sedatives, and antidepressants, as well as quinine medications tinnitus is cited as a potential side effect for about 200 prescription and nonprescription drugs.
- The natural aging process, which can cause deterioration of the cochlea or other parts of the ear.
- Meniere’s disease which affects the inner part of the ear.
- Otosclerosis a disease that results in stiffening of the small bones in the middle ear.
- Other medical conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, circulatory problems, anemia, allergies, an underactive thyroid gland, and diabetes.
Tinnitus can significantly affect quality of life. Although it affects people differently if you have tinnitus you also may experience:
- Sleep problems
- Trouble concentrating
- Memory problems
- Anxiety and irritability