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Ringing or buzzing sounds in one or both ears is a condition known as tinnitus. In some cases, the sounds are so loud they interfere with a person’s ability to concentrate.
When the sounds are only audible to an individual and no one else, the condition is known as subjective tinnitus. In rare cases, a doctor may be able to hear the rhythmic pulsing sounds of a condition known as pulsatile or objective tinnitus.
The Mayo Clinic says that tinnitus “affects about 15 to 20 percent of people and is especially common in older adults.”1 To avoid long-term damage, individuals suffering from tinnitus should consider the five most common causes of tinnitus before seeking medical treatment.
Tiny hairs in the inner ear move when they receive sound waves, triggering electrical signals from the ear’s nerve to the brain. As people age, these hair cells known as cochlea become bent or broken. When this happens, the cochlea sends random electrical impulses to the brain, which the brain interprets as sound, causing tinnitus.
Tinnitus is also common for people regularly exposed to loud noise, such as musicians or airplane mechanics. Protecting one’s ears and hearing is critical to avoiding this type of hearing loss which can bring about tinnitus.
When ear canals become infected or blocked with earwax, dirt, or foreign objects, the pressure within the ear canal can change. This can lead to tinnitus.
Good hygiene can prevent a buildup of some of this material, but in more serious cases, it is preferable to have a physician remove it.