by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady asked:
What causes ringing in both ears?
There are a good number of causes of ringing in the ears—what we call tinnitus. Here are some of them.
- Exposing your ears to loud sounds
- Taking any of the 450 drugs that can cause tinnitus
- Hearing loss, especially sudden hearing loss
- Exposing your ears to various chemicals and heavy metals
- Eating certain “foods” such as alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and some spices
- Head trauma—blow to the head, head injury
- Whiplash, neck injuries
- Barotrauma (sudden pressure changes)
- Certain illnesses
- Colds/sinus infections
- Viral ear infections
- Middle ear infections (otitis media) or other ear problems
- Acoustic neuromas
- Meniere’s Disease
- Stress, anxiety, depression
- Extreme fatigue
In addition to the above, there are various somatic (body) kinds of tinnitus. Somatic tinnitus can result from such things as moving your head/neck, bending over, clenching your teeth, TMJ, moving your eyes, pulsatile tinnitus—tinnitus in unison with each heart beat and related to vascular causes. You can also get tinnitus from ear wax, or if the stapedius or tensor tympani muscle “spasms” in your middle ears.
The first three in the above list are probably the most common causes of ringing tinnitus.
I always like to find out what happened just before the tinnitus started. Often that gives a clue as to the cause of the tinnitus. For example, if you begin a new medication and 3 days later you get loud tinnitus, that could be the cause, or perhaps you are under extraordinary stress—then that could be the cause, etc.