Causes of Ringing Ears (Tinnitus)

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Tinnitus is a distracting condition to live with, and can cause stress and anxiety for many people. While not a disease itself, it can be a very disruptive symptom of a pre-existing problem. Luckily, it is often possible to treat the underlying condition and get rid of the ringing sound in your ears altogether. Below, West Orange TMJ specialist Dr. Ivan Stein discusses some causes of and possible treatments for tinnitus.

Common Causes  

Tinnitus can range in sound from a high-pitched ring to a dull, persistent background roar. Causes of the condition range from temporary ailments to chronic health issues. Here are some of the most common reasons for ringing in the ears:

  • Age-related hearing loss – Your hearing naturally deteriorates as you age, and patients with age-related hearing loss often report ringing in both ears.
  • Noise-induced hearing loss – This type of hearing loss can occur due to a single event (such as an explosion) or exposure to loud noises over time (such as concerts or machinery), and may happen with varying frequency in one or both ears.
  • Obstructions – Congestion, foreign objects or even a buildup of earwax can trigger tinnitus.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Another very common reason for ringing in the ears is temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. The TMJ connects the lower jawbone to the skull, and is located very close to the ears. Stress or damage to the ligaments and cartilage surrounding this joint can cause tinnitus, as well as pain in the jaw and face. If your tinnitus is accompanied by jaw or facial pain, popping sounds when chewing, or an impaired range of movement in the jaw, it may be caused by TMJ disorder. In many cases, fixing the underlying TMJ disorder will get rid of the tinnitus.

Injury and Trauma

Less frequently, tinnitus is caused by a single event. Dramatic changes in pressure can permanently damage your middle ear, causing hearing loss and ringing. Pressure changes can come from diving, flying and even explosions. Other uncommon causes of tinnitus include traumatic brain injuries. Concussions can impair the brain’s auditory processing, causing permanent ringing in the ears.

If you are experiencing persistent ringing in your ears, make an appointment with a dentist to determine the root of the problem. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Ivan Stein, call the Headache and TMJ Center of New Jersey at (855) 865-3627.