Understanding Tinnitus (Part 2)

Understanding Tinnitus (Part 2)

Are you living with tinnitus? Do you know someone that lives with tinnitus? There is a good chance that you do know someone that suffers from this condition, as it affects about 1 in 5 people.

Last time, we discussed what exactly tinnitus is and how many people are affected by it. Check it out if you are looking for more information on tinnitus.

Today we’ll look at what causes tinnitus and the symptoms that are associated with this condition.

Tinnitus can occur due to a variety of conditions and illnesses.

The leading cause of tinnitus is overexposure to loud sound. 

You might be wondering, “How loud is too loud?” or “Does my job put me at risk?” The truth is we are all exposed to loud noise at different times throughout our lives. The key with hearing loss is prolonged exposure to loud sounds.

Military personnel are exposed to excessive noise levels during combat and training. Because of extended exposure to noise, tinnitus is currently the number one service-connected disability for veterans. Other people at risk for tinnitus due to their jobs include musicians, pilots, construction workers, and carpenters.

While prolonged exposure is the norm, a single exposure to a sudden, extremely loud sound could also cause tinnitus.

A variety of other situations can also lead to tinnitus including:

  • Blockages of the ear due to a buildup of wax
  • Ear infections
  • Taking certain drugs which are ototoxic, meaning harmful to your ear, can have temporary or permanent effects, depending on the dosage of the medication.
  • Head and neck trauma
  • Certain disorders, such as thyroid disorders, Meniere’s disease, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, and thoracic outlet syndrome can have tinnitus as a symptom.
  • Otosclerosis
  • Neck or jaw problems, such as TMJ syndrome
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Certain types of tumors

What are the symptoms of tinnitus?

Tinnitus is known as “ringing in the ears” although it is not always a ringing sound. The phantom sound heard when there is no external sound present can also be described as buzzing, roaring, clicking, or hissing.

The sound may vary in pitch from low to very high, and may be in one or both ears.

Tinnitus might be present all the time or come and go intermittently. In some cases, the sound is so loud that you might not be able to hear actual sound.


In Part 3 of our series we’ll talk about the psychological disorders that might occur with this condition.


Amanda Dempsey, MA MFT

adempsey@ GROWcounseling.com

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