Tinnitus is a hearing condition, which is estimated to affect about 15 percent of the population. Tinnitus involves hearing a buzzing, ringing, or whooshing in your ears when the sound is not actually present. This issue affects about 1 in every 10 Americans and is more prevalent in veterans and women.


Tinnitus affects every person differently. For example, some patients experience a loud ringing sound, while others hear a softer, constant ringing or swooshing. The tinnitus symptoms may “spike” in the evening or morning, remain consistent, or appear intermittently. In more severe cases, tinnitus symptoms have an impact on your work or day-to-day life.

The only constant in tinnitus is the experience of a consistent, often highly irritating sound that only you hear and does not exist outside your hearing system.

What causes tinnitus?

This condition can have several different underlying causes, including the following:

  • Age: around the age of 60, hearing sensitivity can start getting worse, causing tinnitus.
  • Loud noise exposure: exposure to occupational loud noises, like chain saws or firearms, is a common cause of tinnitus. But even if you do not work in a loud environment, you can still suffer the effects of noise exposure by listening to loud music through headphones, attending live music performances frequently or engaging in other “noisy” activities.
  • Unhealthy habits: there is some evidence that drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, eating certain foods, and drinking caffeinated beverages can sometimes trigger tinnitus.
  • Common ailments: anemia, allergies, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, circulatory problems, diabetes, and an underactive thyroid gland are all medical conditions that can lead to tinnitus.

Often the underlying cause of tinnitus is not necessarily dangerous, but if you are experiencing tinnitus, it should always be checked by a doctor, especially if you are hearing a “pulsing” sound, known as pulsatile tinnitus, which can signify a serious underlying health issue.

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