Ringing in the ears can be, at best, mildly irritating and, at worst, very disruptive. You may have noticed it in one or both ears and it could last for a few minutes to hours at a time. For some people, ringing in the ears, or tinnitus, is always present and can have a serious impact on their quality of life. If you’ve started experiencing this ringing in the ears and are wondering what it is and what causes it, then this guide will explain all, and offer some solutions on how to stop tinnitus and ringing in the ears.
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the official name for the sound of ringing in the ears when there is no external reason. If you’re in a quiet room and suddenly experience a ringing sound in one or both ears, then you are likely experiencing tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t usually serious or a cause for concern, but it can be annoying, especially if episodes of ringing in the ears last for more than a few minutes.
Tinnitus can happen to anyone, but is more common in those aged over 65. It can also come on at any time, even if you have previously had no problems with your ears.
What Does Tinnitus Sound Like?
Although tinnitus is characterised as a ringing in the ears, it can sound different to each person and may be described as:
Some people report hearing noises that beat in the same rhythm as their heart. Although these noises can appear harmless and may not cause a significant problem, for the most serious cases, ringing in the ears can lead to insomnia or depression. It’s worth having regular bouts of ringing in the ears checked out by a doctor or ear care professional.
What Causes Ringing In The Ears?
There are no definite causes of ringing in ears. It may be linked to a problem with how the ear processes sounds or how the brain interprets those sounds. There are some other possible causes of tinnitus including:
Age-related hearing loss in particular has been linked to tinnitus, which is why elderly people are often worse affected. It is not clear if one causes the other, but there is a correlation between the two. Hearing loss from exposure to loud noises has also been shown to be associated with tinnitus and can be a cause for younger sufferers.
Inner Ear Damage
If the cochlear in your inner ear is damaged, it can affect the signals sent to the brain that control the sounds you hear. The brain will then try to pick up sounds from the damaged cochlear, which could be one of the causes of ringing in ears.
Superficial causes of ringing in ears include both an outer ear infection and a middle ear infection. The excess fluid that builds up can cause swelling and pressure on the eardrum, which has been linked to tinnitus. This is usually temporary and disappears as the infection eases.
Perforated Ear Drum
One of the other temporary causes of ringing in ears is a perforated eardrum. A perforated eardrum can happen for a number of reasons, including an ear infection or very loud noises. One of the side effects can be tinnitus, which will stop when the eardrum heals.
Ménière’s disease is a rare condition and affects balance and hearing. It occurs in the inner ear and there is presently no cure. One of the symptoms of Ménière’s Disease is a ringing in ears alongside regular episodes of vertigo.
Can Ear Wax Cause Tinnitus?
Yes, ear wax can cause tinnitus. Excess ear wax can lead to blocked ears, and this blockage can be one of the causes of ringing in ears. Too much ear wax inhibits normal hearing and can put pressure on the eardrum. When parts of the ear are put under stress like this it disturbs the processes that naturally occur, which is why you might start to hear ringing in the ears. Not only that, but an ear wax build-up can impact hearing, lead to an ear infection, or even cause a perforated eardrum.
How To Stop Tinnitus
Depending on the cause, tinnitus can go away on its own. If it’s due to an ear infection or perforated eardrum, symptoms will be temporary and the ringing in the ears should stop when you get better. Some cases last around 6-12 months and then clear up, while others may be more long lasting, such as those caused by hearing loss or Ménière’s disease. If you have long standing tinnitus, then you may have already experienced habituation – this is where you get used to the sounds and they no longer bother you or cause an interruption to your daily life. Some active ways to stop tinnitus, or at the very least reduce the effects of tinnitus include:
- Correcting hearing loss – addressing any hearing loss will treat the underlying cause of the tinnitus and, hopefully, correcting it will stop tinnitus or lessen its severity.
- Therapy – CBT and tinnitus sound therapy are both recommended to help tinnitus sufferers manage ringing in the ears and any associated problems such as anxiety or depression. Therapies may not stop tinnitus , but they do alleviate any psychological distress that may be making its impact worse.
- Ear wax removal – For ringing in the ears caused by excessive ear wax, ear wax removal is the obvious answer to how to stop tinnitus. Having ear wax removed safely and professionally through microsuction will keep ears clean and clear of tinnitus-causing ear wax build-ups, alongside reducing the likelihood of infections.
Microsuction from Ear Care Clinic
If you suspect that ear wax is a cause of ringing in the ears and want to have it removed quickly and painlessly, then microsuction from Ear Care Clinic can help. Microsuction is superior to many other methods of ear wax removal and is safer, with no downtime and no need to apply drops for weeks prior to the procedure. It can even be performed when you have an ear infection.