Tinnitus is a condition characterized by hearing some kind of noise or ringing in the ears, often described as buzzing, roaring, clicking, hissing, or humming, when no external sound is present. 

Tinnitus is not a disease itself but a symptom of an underlying health issue, which could involve the ear, the auditory nerve, or other areas of the brain. Coping with it is very hard sometimes!

According to the American Tinnitus Association, tinnitus affects approximately 15-20% of the population in the United States, which equates to around 50 million people. Among these, 2 million have extreme and debilitating cases.

Let’s go through the eight most common reasons for tinnitus. 


1. Pulsatile tinnitus: This type of tinnitus matches the heartbeat. It can be due to various causes including high blood pressure, changes in the blood vessels near the ear, or increased blood flow near the ears. See a doctor for this one. 


2. Meniere’s disease: An inner ear disorder characterized by ringing in the ear, spinning sensation (vertigo), and some degree of hearing loss.


3. Eustachian tube dysfunction: This occurs when the Eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ear to the back of the nose, don’t open or close properly. This can cause a variety of symptoms including noises in the ear.


4. Medications: Certain medications, especially in high doses, can cause tinnitus as a side effect.


5. Earwax buildup: Sometimes, a simple buildup of earwax can cause tinnitus.


6. Blood vessel disorders: Conditions such as atherosclerosis or an arteriovenous malformation can sometimes cause tinnitus. Over-thinning the blood, usually through the use of anticoagulant or anti-platelet medications, can alter the flow of blood through the vessels.


7. Middle ear conditions: Problems with the bones in the middle ear can cause tinnitus.


8. High blood pressure: Hypertension can, in some cases, cause pulsatile tinnitus.

Now let’s talk about the medications that are commonly associated with tinnitus. It’s a misnomer to assume that you have to take these medications chronically to trigger an episode. It could happen faster than that.

Some of the most common drugs include: 

  • Aspirin or salicylates, especially in high doses
  • NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen
  • Certain antibiotics, which have been linked to tinnitus
  • Antimalarials, such as chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine
  • Some people report tinnitus as a side effect of certain antidepressants


If you suspect that a medication is causing tinnitus, speak to your doctor.

Some natural remedies exist that could help. For example, ginkgo biloba may increase blood flow to the head and neck. It may also backfire, so use under the guidance of a doctor. Melatonin, B vitamins, and zinc are also potentially useful.

Magnesium is probably the most exciting natural option, and I have more about all of these natural treatments if you want to read the longer version of this article at my website, suzycohen.com

If you have symptoms, see an ear, nose, and throat doctor or an audiologist. There’s more information available at ata.org


This information is not intended to diagnose, prevent, or treat your disease. For more information about the author, visit suzycohen.com.

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