People with tinnitus suffer from hearing noise inside their head. The noise sounds like a ringing, buzzing, clicking, blowing, hissing, whistling, roaring, or pulsating sound. The sound may be constant or may come and go, and can affect one or both ears.
Sometimes, hearing loss accompanies tinnitus. Tinnitus is a symptom of some people who have hearing loss; however, not everyone with tinnitus has hearing loss or will develop a loss of hearing.
If you are exposed to either prolonged or intermittent loud noise, you may be predisposed to tinnitus. Although no one really knows what causes tinnitus, people who have been exposed to loud noises often develop symptoms of tinnitus. According to some experts, 90% of those with tinnitus have some degree of noise-induced hearing loss. While expert opinion differs on the exact noise level at which hearing loss occurs, it’s safe to say that prolonged exposure to noises louder than 85 decibels will cause hearing loss. For reference, normal conversation is around 60 decibels, city traffic noise is 80 decibels, and a hair dryer gives off 90 decibels.
If you have a medical condition such as heart disease, ear or sinus infection, thyroid disorders, head or neck trauma, or head tumors, you may be predisposed to tinnitus. Tinnitus can be caused by a variety of medical conditions that vary in severity from wax buildup in the ear to tumors and heart disease. Certain medications, such as some antibiotics (neomycin, streptomycin, and viomycin), indomethacin (an anti-inflammatory taken for rheumatoid arthritis), and quinine (taken to prevent malaria), may also activate tinnitus symptoms.
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