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What Causes Tinnitus?

Do you hear ringing or other noises in your ears? That’s called tinnitus – it can sound different to everyone, and can be caused by a few different things. 

Most often, tinnitus is a result of (or precursor to) hearing loss. Your brain is realizing that there is damage, and is sending a signal to try and compensate. This phenomenon is similar to phantom limb, where the brain is still trying to send a signal to a part of the body that is no longer functioning properly.   

Another common cause of tinnitus is noise exposure. Prolonged or repeated exposure to loud sounds, even with the use of hearing protection, can lead to tinnitus. People who work in construction, the military, and the music industry are especially at risk for tinnitus-inducing noise exposure.  

Tinnitus can also have simpler causes. Sometimes, if someone has impacted cerumen (ear wax completely plugging their ear), they can experience tinnitus. You can also experience tinnitus with an ear infection. Tinnitus is a known side effect of several medications, too. Antibiotics, NSAIDs, and chemotherapies all include tinnitus on their list of possible side effects. These causes are generally easily treated by a visit to an ENT, or a consultation with your primary care doctor. 

Dr. Rachel Conter, an audiologist at Gardner Audiology in South Pasadena, St. Petersburg, Florida, works with patients to help relieve and treat tinnitus through the use of hearing aids. If you are interested in learning more about your possible treatment options, please contact Gardner Audiology in South Pasadena, Florida at 1-800-277-1182 or email info@gardneraudiology.com  

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