A person is diagnosed with tinnitus, when he/she hears ringing sounds, even though no external sound is present. Affected individuals could also hear roaring, clicking, hissing, or buzzing sounds. In severe cases, the person may find it difficult to hear, work, concentrate, or even sleep. These sounds can be heard while chewing, swallowing, yawning or even constantly. Ringing or popping noises could also be heard due to an Eustachian tube dysfunction.
These tubes connect the middle ear to the nasopharynx and equalize the air pressure on the two sides of the eardrum. When these tubes don't open normally while swallowing or yawning, it results in a difference between the air pressure inside and outside the middle ear. Under such circumstances, the eardrum either bulges outward (positive pressure) or bulges inward (negative pressure). Basically, an inwardly or outwardly bulged eardrum can create a sensation of fullness in the ears.
- Sinus Infection/Ear Infection: If the Eustachian tube does not open properly due to inflammatory conditions, especially due to cold, sinus problems, and allergies, it could lead to the accumulation of fluid in the middle ear. This can cause pain, hearing problems, and popping noises.
- Changes in the Ear Bone: Ringing noises could be heard in case the bones in the middle ear have become stiff due to an abnormal bone growth.
- Muscle Spasms: Spasms of the muscles of the soft palate make them extend towards the ear. Spasms of muscles in the middle or inner ear can create a clicking sound in the ear.
- Accumulation of Earwax: If earwax is not removed properly and regularly, it can block the sounds from reaching the brain, resulting in clicking within an ear.
- Noise Pollution: Exposure to loud music and noises can increase the risk of tinnitus.
- Medications: The use of certain antibiotics, diuretics, antidepressants, and cancer medications could be a contributing factor for abnormal sounds in ears.
- Head/Neck Injuries: Trauma to the head or neck could affect the part of the brain or nerves that is associated with hearing, thereby making one susceptible to ear problems.
- Diseases: Many diseases like Meniere's disease, temporomandibular joint disorders, acoustic neuroma, abnormal blood pressure, fibromyalgia, diseases of the heart or blood vessels, thyroid problems, abnormal interactions between neural circuits, etc., could be the contributing factors.
The person suffering from tinnitus may have to undergo several tests. He should provide detailed information about his health and medicines to his doctor. The treatment would vary, depending on the underlying cause. For instance, if earwax has blocked the ear canal, it will be removed with the help of advanced techniques and instruments. These days, certain tiny electronic devices that produce a soft, pleasant sound are fitted in the ear to disguise the tinnitus. The abnormal sounds can be masked with the help of devices that produce a continuous, low-level white noise. Hearing aids are recommended in case of hearing loss.
Human ears are delicate organs, which is why, you should consult your doctor immediately on experiencing hearing problems or hear abnormal sounds.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.