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4 Common Causes of Tinnitus

Mar 02, 2024
 4 Common Causes of Tinnitus
If you suffer from tinnitus, you may be wondering what is causing this uncomfortable ringing in your ears. Here’s a look at the top four common causes of this common condition, and how we can help make it stop!

Over 25 million American adults suffer from tinnitus, a troublesome condition that most often creates a ringing sound in the ears. Tinnitus doesn’t usually come from a serious underlying health issue, but it can be detrimental to your everyday activities. 

The condition can negatively impact your quality of life, trigger mental strain, and interrupt important life moments. If you have tinnitus, you know the condition causes you to hear sounds that aren’t caused by something external, including:

  • Hissing or clicking
  • Ringing or buzzing
  • Squealing or high-pitched whines
  • Roaring or humming 

You may also hear rhythmic whooshing or pulsing that are in time with the beating of your heart. Tinnitus can lead to headaches or nausea if it’s ongoing. However, everyone experiences this condition differently and it has many different causes. 


Chances are good that if you have tinnitus you’re wondering why, and if anything can give you relief. The team at Advanced Specialty Associates can help!

Our board-certified providers in St. Paul and Baxter, Minnesota, have years of experience diagnosing and managing tinnitus. If you’re bothered by this condition, don’t wait to schedule an appointment and get the care you need. 

In the meantime, take a moment to learn more about the top four common causes of tinnitus and the different ways it’s treated.   

Top causes of tinnitus

Most people with tinnitus (over 99%) have subjective tinnitus. Only you can perceive the sounds you’re hearing with subjective tinnitus. This type of tinnitus is usually the result of one or more of the following risk factors:  

1. Age-related hearing loss

As you age, the structures in your inner ear tend to undergo degenerative changes that make it difficult for you to hear. These changes reduce your ability to detect and register high-frequency sounds, and may lead to the perception of tinnitus. 

2. Exposure to loud noises

Being around loud noises for a prolonged amount of time can increase your risk of getting tinnitus. This includes loud music, machinery, firearms, and motorcycles.

Exposure to these noises can damage the delicate hair cells in your inner ear, damaging your ability to hear properly and leading to tinnitus. 

If you work in a loud environment, are a musician or music lover, are active military, ride motorcycles, or hunt or use guns frequently, you may increase your risk of tinnitus.

3. Taking certain medications

Some medications can trigger subjective tinnitus, called ototoxic medications, or toxic to the auditory system. They can potentially cause tinnitus by damaging sensory cells in the inner ear. 

These include certain antibiotics, some chemotherapy drugs, anti-malaria pills, and more. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also bring on tinnitus, like ibuprofen and acetaminophen. 

While most people can take NSAIDs without getting tinnitus, long-term, high doses of these drugs may trigger the condition. However, you shouldn’t stop taking medications without first consulting your provider to determine if it may be the cause of your tinnitus. 

4. Head or neck injuries 

Suffering trauma to the head or neck can damage parts of the body that are related to hearing, like the inner ear, hearing nerves, or the area of the brain connected to hearing. This can lead to tinnitus.

Usually, a head or neck injury that triggers tinnitus only affects one ear. 

Less common causes

Another, less common, type of tinnitus is called objective tinnitus. People with objective tinnitus tend to report pulsatile tinnitus, or hearing sounds in time with their heartbeat. 

However, with this condition, other people can hear the sounds you hear (with a stethoscope). This type of tinnitus is caused by a physical condition like chronic sinus infections, brain tumors, neurological diseases, and more. 

Seeing a specialist, like one of our providers at Advanced Specialty Associates, is crucial since objective tinnitus might signal a serious health problem.

Treatments for tinnitus 

There are no evidence-based cures for tinnitus, but there are effective treatment options that help you manage the condition and live a normal life again. 

Depending on your symptoms, the type of tinnitus you have, and the severity of your condition, your Advanced Specialty Associates provider creates a specialized treatment plan

For some people, removing blockages in the ears is all it takes to get relief. Other people may require additional therapies, including:

  • Medications (including changing medications if they’re a cause)
  • Hearing aids or implants
  • Lifestyle changes that improve circulation
  • Noise-suppression devices
  • Counseling

Your provider may recommend surgery in some cases, usually to address inner ear damage or nerve conditions that might cause your tinnitus. 

If you’re struggling with tinnitus, it’s time to get relief. Schedule an appointment online or over the phone at Advanced Specialty Associates in Baxter and St. Paul, Minnesota, today.