According to the American Tinnitus Association, “Approximately 10 percent of the U.S. adult population — over 25 million Americans — experience some form of tinnitus. Roughly 5 million people struggle with burdensome chronic tinnitus, while 2 million find it debilitating.”
There are many potential causes of tinnitus, and identifying the cause of yours is key to getting proper treatment. Below we review some of the more unusual causes of tinnitus.
Earwax is a substance produced by the ear that moisturizes the ear canal as well as traps debris and bacteria to prevent it from entering the ear. While in most cases, earwax works its way out of the ears through natural jaw movements when talking, chewing and yawning, sometimes it builds up in the ear canals. When this happens, it is said to be impacted. Impacted earwax can cause a variety of symptoms, such as earache, itchiness, discharge, feeling of fullness, hearing loss, dizziness and, of course, tinnitus.
It may be the case that your life-saving or life-enhancing medications are causing your tinnitus. Common culprits include high doses of aspirin, certain antibiotics, certain antidepressants and many chemotherapy drugs. If you suspect your medications are to blame for your tinnitus symptoms, talk to your provider about possible alternatives.
Your tinnitus may be due not to a problem with your ears, but with your teeth or jaw. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, for instance, causes a popping or clicking in the jaw that you can hear with your ears. If you’ve recently had dental work done, you find that you can’t open your jaw fully or your jaw is making these unpleasant sounds, see a dentist. They can mold a nightguard or dental orthotic device that can help.
If you’ve had a head injury due to a car accident or sports collision, you should see a health care provider right away, especially if you’re experiencing tinnitus afterward. This could be a sign something is wrong with your brain or your ears. In addition, to prevent this type of injury, be sure to always wear a helmet when riding a bike, playing contact sports or working on a high-risk jobsite.
If you’re experiencing tinnitus when trying to enjoy the New Mexico Museum of Art, schedule an appointment with a hearing expert at Southwestern Hearing & Balance right away.