The 5 Most Common Causes of Tinnitus

NZH June Blog

If you don’t have tinnitus, you probably know someone who does! One in 10 New Zealanders report hearing tinnitus, the perception of sound when no external source is present1. It impacts each person differently and is a challenging symptom to treat.

Part of the difficulty in treating and managing tinnitus is determining the cause, as there is rarely an exact source. However, there are a few factors that seem to be linked to the perception of tinnitus.

1. Hearing Loss

Damage to the sensory organ of hearing, the cochlea, can cause tinnitus. There are tiny cell receptors, known as hair cells, in the cochlea that can break, leading to hearing loss. These damaged cells send inaccurate messages to the brain, causing tinnitus2.

2. Ear Blockages

Anything that blocks up the ear canal can cause temporary hearing loss and possibly tinnitus. Excessive ear wax, infections, or debris can prevent sound from getting through the ear properly and these barriers in access to sound can cause tinnitus2.

3. Noise Exposure

Exposing your ears to excessively loud sound damages the delicate structures in the inner ear. Some noise is so intense the damage occurs within seconds, whereas other noise causes damage slowly after hours and days of consistent exposure.

4. Medications

Certain medications have been linked to tinnitus. The intensity of tinnitus can depend on the dosage of the medication, higher doses tend to make tinnitus sound louder. NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), some antibiotics, cancer drugs, and diuretics have been associated with tinnitus. Everyone responds differently to medications, so ask your doctor if you notice any changes to tinnitus with medication use2.

5. Injury to the Head or Neck

Head and neck injuries can sometimes damage the inner ear and/or the auditory nervous system. Tinnitus resulting from these injuries tends to occur only on one side2.

Considering all of the varying causes of Tinnitus, it's important to see a qualified audiologist to determine the next steps in your treatment journey. Get in touch with your local clinic today!

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1. Tinnitus. Accessed on 9 June 2021.
2. Tinnitus. Mayo Clinic. Accessed on 9 June 2021.

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