Tinnitus: That Annoying Ringing, Buzzing, Rushing Sound

Tinnitus: That Annoying Ringing, Buzzing, Rushing Sound

Tinnitus (/tinədəs/) is the “ringing” or “buzzing” of the ears. Anyone can experience tinnitus. Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure, however, researchers and organizations such as the Tinnitus Hub, British Tinnitus Association, American Tinnitus Association, among many others, strive to bring awareness to the causes, effects, and remedies for Tinnitus. 

So, what does tinnitus sound like? Tinnitus can be perceived differently from individual to individual. The most common sounds are likened to: whistling, hissing, wooshing, buzzing, electrical currents, a swarm of bees, running water, dial-up internet, sound of the ocean in a seashell, pulsing, roaring, musical triangles, rain, and gushing. (Source: Friends With Tinnitus.)


The Two Kinds of Tinnitus – Subjective and Objective: 

Subjective tinnitus, which is the most common, is tinnitus only you can hear. Sounds are created without an external source. This is caused by ear problems in your outer, middle or inner ear, problems with the auditory nerves, or the part of your brain that interprets nerve signals as sound (auditory pathways). 

Objective tinnitus,which is very rare and associated with abnormalities, is tinnitus that your doctor can hear in an examination. It may be caused by a blood vessel problem, a middle ear bone condition, or muscle contractions.

What are the Causes? 

The most common cause is damage to the inner hair cells. But common causes can range from: age-related hearing loss, exposure to loud noise, earwax blockage, and ear bone changes. 

The not so common causes are: Meniere’s disease, TMJ (temporomandibular) disorders, head or neck injuries, acoustic neuroma, eustachian tube dysfunction, and muscle spasms in the inner ear. 

Rare cases of tinnitus are caused by some sort of blood vessel disorder, such as: Atherosclerosis, head and neck tumors, high blood pressure, turbulent blood flow, and the malformation of capillaries. 

There are quite a few medications, when taken at high doses, out there that can cause or worsen tinnitus. Some include:

Antibiotics, like, polymyxin B, erythromycin, vancomycin (Vancocin HCL, Firvanq), and neomycin. Cancer medications include methotrexate (Trexall) and cisplatin. 

Water pills (diuretics), include bumetanide (Bumex), ethacrynic acid (edecrin), or furosemide (Lasix). 

Others include quinine medications (used for malaria and other health conditions), certain antidepressants (worsen tinnitus), and Aspirin (usually 12 or more a day). 

In addition, there are some common risk factors such as smoking and cardiovascular problems. 

Tinnitus and the Quality of Life

Tinnitus plays a major role in the quality of life. It affects our overall health- mentally, physically, and emotionally. 

A few symptoms are pain, fatigue, stress, sleep disturbances, poor concentration, memory problems, depression, anxiety and irritability, frequent mood swings, social isolation, and problems focusing on work.

Remedies to Help Relieve Tinnitus

What are some of the remedies? Sound therapy, tinnitus retraining therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy are some conventional treatments. 

For more of a holistic approach, Friends With Tinnitus provides a list of remedies, which we’ve listed a few here. 

  • Acupuncture
  • Acupressure
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Naturopathy
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Herbal supplements
  • Nutrition

We understand that tinnitus affects everyone differently. What works for one person may not work for another. That being said, we hope the list of remedies we’ve provided can help ease some of the effects of tinnitus. 

If you have tinnitus, or know someone who does, and they’ve got a remedy that we have not listed, please let us know!


Friends With Tinnitus

Mayo Clinic

Medical News Today