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Why do my ears keep ringing? Looking at the causes and treatments of ringing in the ears

Kimberley Bradshaw - Head of Marketing
Written By:
Kimberley Bradshaw

Head of Customer Content Experience

Paul Harrison Hearing Aid UK Founder & Audiologist
Medically Reviewed By:
Paul Harrison

Audiology Expert & Founder

Updated: 12th March 2024
Why Do My Ears Keep Ringing?

Why do I keep hearing a ringing in my ears?

Looking at the causes and treatments of ringing in the ears

 

Tinnitus:  Ringing in the ears and what to do about it

The persistent, high-pitched sound echoing in your ears can be irritating, painful, and bothersome. Tinnitus, commonly described as ringing in the ears, is a condition experienced by millions worldwide. While it may seem like a minor inconvenience, the underlying causes behind this auditory issue are complex and varied.

This article briefly explores the nature of tinnitus and sheds light on why your ears might be incessantly ringing.

 

Understanding tinnitus

Tinnitus is not a disease but rather a symptom of an underlying issue affecting the auditory system. It is the perception of sound in the absence of any external sound sources. The perceived sounds can take various forms, such as ringing, buzzing, hissing, or even roaring.  Tinnitus can be categorised into two main types, which are subjective and objective. 

 

Subjective tinnitus

Subjective tinnitus is the more common form and is a result of disturbances in the auditory system, typically involving the ears or the neural pathways responsible for processing sound signals. Common causes include exposure to loud noises, age-related hearing loss, earwax blockages, and certain medications.

Noise-induced hearing loss is the main contributor to subjective tinnitus. Prolonged exposure to loud environments or sudden exposure to extremely loud noises can damage the delicate hair cells in the inner ear, leading to persistent ringing.

Ageing also plays a role, as the natural wear and tear on these cells over time can result in hearing loss and tinnitus.

 

Objective tinnitus

Objective tinnitus is less common and often associated with a physical sound source that can be detected by an observer, such as an audiologist.  This type of tinnitus is typically linked to vascular or muscular issues, such as blood vessel abnormalities or contractions of the muscles in the ear.  Objective tinnitus may require specialised medical attention to identify and address the underlying cause.

 

Medical conditions and lifestyle factors

Several medical conditions and lifestyle factors can contribute to the onset of tinnitus. Stress and anxiety have been identified as potential triggers, amplifying the perception of the ringing in the ears. Conditions like temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, head or neck injuries, and certain cardiovascular diseases can impact the auditory system, leading to tinnitus.

 

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Why do my ears keep ringing?

Why do I keep hearing a ringing in my ears?

What can help tackle ringing in the ears?

 

The role of medications

Certain medications have been linked to the development of tinnitus as a side effect. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), certain antibiotics, diuretics, and some cancer medications are among the culprits. It is crucial to communicate any changes in your auditory experience to your GP as they may need to adjust your medication or explore alternative options.

 

How do I stop my ears from ringing?  Five helpful ways to manage tinnitus symptoms

Managing tinnitus symptoms requires different approaches that address both the physical and emotional aspects of this condition. Here are five helpful ways to effectively manage tinnitus symptoms:

1.  Sound masking: Use background noise or sound masking devices, like white noise machines or calming music, to create a soothing soundscape that reduces the focus of tinnitus and promotes relaxation.

2.  Relaxation techniques: Practice stress-relief techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation to reduce emotional distress and create an overall sense of calm to better cope with tinnitus symptoms and spikes.

3.  Healthy sleep habits: Establish a consistent sleep routine, optimise your sleep environment, and consider using a fan or white noise machine at bedtime to mask tinnitus sounds. These habits will reduce the impact of tinnitus by promoting restful sleep.

4.  Limiting stimulants: Reduce or avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine to lower stress levels.  Moderating alcohol intake and adopting a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced diet, contribute to overall well-being.

Professional support: Seek guidance from healthcare professionals, such as audiologists or ENT specialists, for effective tinnitus management. They can conduct assessments, identify underlying causes, and offer personalised advice. 

 

Seeking professional help is crucial

If you find yourself wondering why your ears won't stop ringing, seeking professional guidance is essential. Audiologists are trained to diagnose and treat various auditory issues, including tinnitus. Auditory assessments, including hearing tests, may be conducted to identify the root cause of the problem. 

The persistent ringing in your ears may be an indication of an underlying issue that requires attention. From exposure to loud noises to age-related hearing loss, various factors can contribute to the development of tinnitus. 

If your ears are keeping you up at night with their persistent ringing, it's time to seek professional help to improve your symptoms, discover treatments, and benefit from better auditory health.

By incorporating tinnitus management strategies into your daily life, you can better manage and cope with tinnitus, improving your overall quality of life. It's important to remember that finding the right combination of techniques may take time, and consulting with a healthcare professional ensures support based on your unique needs and circumstances.

 

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Do your ears ring?  You may have tinnitus

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This article was written by Kimberley Bradshaw

Meet Kimberley Bradshaw , Head of Customer Content Experience

By working closely with the Hearing Aid UK audiologists, experts and advisers, she develops the online content, so that the customer's experience is the best it can be. 

Kimberley's medical representation has allowed her to focus on the importance of hearing healthcare and explore the many ways in which hearing loss and its awareness can be improved.

She has collaborated and written about hearing healthcare for several online publications.

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