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Why We Hear a Ringing in Our Ears and What May Be Causing It

Sometimes, after a concert or exposure to excessively loud sounds or noises, we can perceive a buzzing sound. It doesn’t seem to come from any source, and weirdly, we’re only able to hear it when everything else is silent.

Bright Side will tell you more about this curious phenomenon that you may have experienced at least once in your life. Just remember that if you notice something out of the ordinary, it’s best to consult a doctor.

A sound with an unknown origin

The buzzing, hissing, or strange noise in our ears is known as tinnitus. It’s a phantom perception of a sound when there isn’t a source for it. Because every person is different, it can also manifest itself as a roar or a snap, and there are several factors that can possibly cause it. The ringing symptom is generally temporary and can be subtle or, in some cases, so intense that it makes it difficult to have a conversation.

However, if the ringing lasts too long or is chronically repetitive, it can interfere with the daily life of those experiencing it.

The cause of this unusual buzzing sound

Tinnitus occurs due to injury to the small hair cells located in our inner ear. These cells form small villi near the cochlea that move according to the sound waves that reach our ears. The auditory nerve then perceives and interprets these waves as sounds. But when the villi are injured, they send an incorrect message, and the wrong signal is sent to our brain, which makes us hear a stimulus that isn’t really present.

Factors that can provoke these ringing sounds

These minor injuries to the inner ear can be generated by several causes, including:

  • Exposure to loud noise for a long time, such as a concert or construction, or listening through speakers or headphones at a very high volume can cause it. In the first case, it’s easy to recover from and go back to normal. But in the second case, because it’s habitual, the damage caused by excessive volume reaching the ear can become permanent.
  • Earwax can also be the cause of tinnitus. An obstruction in the ear canal due to earwax accumulation can make it swell and even irritate the eardrum, generating this annoying imaginary sound. This can also arise from an ear infection.

  • As we grow older, we can gradually lose our sense of hearing, which in the long run, can bring a constant buzzing or clicking sensation in people over 60.

  • Another cause is variations in blood pressure.

  • Head and neck injuries, and even excessive stress in these areas, can lead to tinnitus because they are connected to our hearing. When this is the source of the ringing, it usually occurs in only one ear.

  • On the other hand, the condition can show a hardening of the middle ear’s ossicles (otosclerosis), which is one of its main symptoms.

  • When the temporomandibular joint (the spot where the jaw meets the skull) suffers some alteration or injury, it can induce tinnitus because of its proximity to the ear.

  • This sensation, in more extreme cases, can be a sign of diseases, such as Ménière’s syndrome, a condition in the inner ear; or vestibular schwannoma, which is produced by a benign tumor located in the skull.

  • The use of medications, such as antidepressants, antibiotics, and water pills can also cause this symptom.

How to prevent tinnitus

If this sensation lasts for too long and it’s perceived in high intensity, it can affect our daily lives and cause fatigue, lack of concentration, irritability, and sleep or memory problems.

For this reason, it’s better to avoid extremely loud sounds, not to listen to headphones at full volume, and if we go to a noisy event or area, it’s a good idea to use earplugs to protect our ears. It’s also essential to take care of our cardiovascular health with a healthy diet and exercise since there’s no specific treatment for this condition.

Do you remember ever experiencing this odd phantom sound? What do you believe caused it in the first place?

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