Causes of Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a complex and irritating problem that affects over 36 million Americans. Proper diagnosis of tinnitus is essential for proper management.

Ear Related Problems

  • Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis)
  • Sudden sensorineural hearing loss
  • Noise induced hearing loss
  • Excessive ear wax
  • Stiffening of middle ear bones (otosclerosis)
  • Middle ear infection
  • Meniere’s Disease
  • Labyrinthitis

Noise Exposure

Exposure to excessive noise levels can cause damage to the structures of the inner ear. This damage can result in tinnitus and deterioration of hearing sensitivity. Large machinery, guns, rifles, construction equipment, chain saws, and MP3 players or iPods (if played loudly for long periods of time) are common sources of damaging noise.


Medications with side effects that damage the inner ear are referred to as ototoxic drugs. Long-term use of ototoxic medications can cause hearing loss, tinnitus, and dizziness. The most common types of ototoxic drugs are aspirin, antibiotics, diuretics, and cancer treatment drugs. However, there are thousands of drugs with ototoxic side effects. Discuss medications potential ototoxic side effects with a pharmacist or physician. For a complete list of otoxic agents refer to Neil G. Bauman’s "Ototoxic Drugs Exposed".

Chemical Exposure

Researchers have identified up to 56,000 chemicals that may cause damage to your ears, including tinnitus, hearing loss, and dizziness. Many of these chemicals are commonly found in the workplace and can also exist in household products. Some of these ototoxic chemicals include adhesives; grease and spot removers; insulation; paint and paint thinners; varnishes and wood preservatives. For a complete list of otoxic agents refer to Neil G. Bauman’s "Ototoxic Drugs Exposed".

Other Causes of Tinnitus

  • Allergies
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Blood circulation problems
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid problems
  • Injury to the head or neck
  • Various types of head and neck tumors

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