Ears Ringing Cause
Ringing in the ears is a common problem, affecting between 10% and 20% of older adults. The more official name of this symptom is tinnitus. The ears ringing cause varies considerably between people. I’ll discuss some of them here, but to “cut to the chase”, in most cases doctors don’t really know for sure what causes it .
Although people often use the term “ringing”, many people will use other descriptions such as hissing or crackling or swishing to describe the sounds they hear. My own tinnitus is a high pitched cricket-like noise in both ears. In fact, when it first started I thought I was hearing crickets.
A common cause of temporary ringing in the ears is exposure to loud noises – say being by a jack-hammer or attending a rock concert. If it’s a one time exposure, the ringing usually goes away after several hours. If exposure is repeated and prolonged, not only does the ringing persist but hearing can be permanently damaged. Eric Clapton is one of many performers who suffer from tinnitus and hearing loss related to his exposure to loud noises.
A simple cause of ears ringing is excess wax in the ear canal. The fancier name for ear wax is cerumen. In this case, a simple cleaning may take care of the problem.
You know this, but it bears repeating: don’t try to clean your ears with anything sharp or pointed. You can get ear cleaning kits at a drug store and a health food store may suggest ear “candling. ” I’ve never tried the latter but I know people who swear by it.
An ear infection or fluid trapped behind the ear drum is another cause of ear ringing. A decongestant and possibly antibiotics may help in this case.
Ringing in the ears is also a side effect on many drugs. The most common prescription drugs that can cause ear problems are quinidine, members of a class of antibiotics referred to as aminoglycocides and several chemotherapy drugs. There are others besides these, but these are the ones most likely to cause problems.
On the over the counter drug side of things there is one culprit everyone should be aware of: good ol’ aspirin. In high doses, aspirin is a well-recognized cause of ringing ears. This typically happens with doses above 10-12 standard aspirin tablets (325mg)/day, not the “baby” aspirin dose of 81mg that doctors recommend to some people with hardening of the arteries and other people.
Some people only notice tinnitus when they are in an extremely quiet environment. This is probably normal – or at least normal in today’s world. Some researchers think that it’s normal to hear a little background noise, the hearing equivalent of static on a phone line, but this normal ringing is only evident in very quiet environments.