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Ringing in the Ears Causes & Risks


Many diseases and conditions are associated with tinnitus, including:

  • Hearing loss, the most frequent cause of persistent tinnitus
  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Stroke
  • Certain medications (see below)
  • Wax or a foreign body in the ear canal
  • Allergies
  • Ear infection
  • Fluid in the ear
  • Ruptured membrane in the ear
  • Meniere's disease
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Injury to the head or neck
  • Tumors
  • Blood vessel disorders, such as an aneurysm or hardening of the arteries
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid problems

Rare episodes of tinnitus lasting at most a few minutes are quite common in normal people, especially after exposure to loud noises. Be sure to see a doctor for tinnitus that is persistent and/or associated with hearing loss, dizziness, change in personality, speech, or weakness in any body area. Tinnitus that is pulsatile or heard only on one side also generally requires a medical evaluation. Evaluation should be more urgent when tinnitus comes on rapidly, and especially when it is associated with personality change or any loss of bodily function.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.

Your risk of tinnitus increases with:

  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Certain medications:
    • Aspirin
    • Quinine and its derivatives
    • Some antibiotics (aminoglycosides)
    • Some diuretics (water pills)
  • Toxins:
    • Heavy metals
    • Carbon monoxide
    • Alcohol

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Ringing in the Ears Guide

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