Tinnitus does not arise on its own. It is caused by a variety of other health concerns. Some cases of tinnitus are spurred by relatively simple physical changes, like earwax build-up, which can be treated at home. Many are more serious and require medical care.
Infections and fluid build-up within the ear cause a large number of tinnitus cases. This can be very difficult to treat, often requiring that fluid be removed via a tube. If infections recur, then related tinnitus can develop again.
Other conditions that may lead to tinnitus include:
Most cases are subjective tinnitus. That means only the patient can hear the noise. Objective tinnitus is a form of tinnitus caused by sounds a doctor can hear, such as muscle contractions or bone conditions of the middle ear.
Some cases of tinnitus can be cured by treating the underlying condition. In many cases, however, symptoms persist indefinitely. Most tinnitus causes are self-limiting and do not worsen over time. That said, tinnitus can have a profound negative effect on quality of life.
One of the most significant potential side effects of tinnitus is hearing loss. Severe hearing loss associated with tinnitus is rare. Still, patients can experience difficulty hearing sounds in both the higher and lower auditory registers. Hearing aids can offer limited help.
If your doctor identifies a precise underlying cause for your tinnitus, do what you can to protect yourself. For example, when tinnitus is associated with infections, you can take steps to protect your respiratory health and make future infections less likely.
The latest tinnitus clinical studies are entering an exciting phase where they may finally provide ways to eliminate tinnitus symptoms rather than just reduce them. This offers new hope to tinnitus sufferers of all backgrounds, including those suffering with age-related tinnitus.