Tinnitus is a ringing in the ears that can be a symptom of several conditions of the ear. These conditions can include:
- Presbycusis (hearing loss due to age)
- Middle ear infections
- Wax in the ear
- Otosclerosis (middle ear bone disease)
- Meniere’s disease (abnormality of the fluids in the inner ear which causes dizziness)
- Acoustic neuroma (tumors that occur in the inner ear which affect the brain or nerves)
- Other things that may cause tinnitus include noise exposure and taking certain drugs, like aspirin. Tinnitus can also be caused by problems near the ear canal, such as inflammation, dysfunction of the jaw joint (TMJ), or from clenching of the jaws and grinding of the teeth (bruxism).
Tinnitus is rarely a disease itself in isolation; is more commonly a symptom of another disorder and should accordingly have a thorough evaluation with a trained doctor. A full ENT examination is usually recommended in order to determine a cause. Special hearing tests, balance tests, nerve conduction tests, or MRI scans can help the physician find the underlying problem and make an accurate diagnosis.
Visit our dedicated Treatment of Tinnitus page if you are a tinnitus sufferer to learn more about specific treatments available.