Tel: 65 6950 2869

What causes tinnitus?

What causes tinnitus? First let's discuss what this annoying condition is exactly. If you’ve experienced a ringing or buzzing in your ears, you know what it’s like to have tinnitus. Different people may hear the sound in different ways. Some of my patients describe it as a roaring, hissing, whistling, ringing or buzzing sound. But what they all have in common is that they are not hearing an external sound. It’s all coming from inside the ear and it can be extremely frustrating. While it’s more common in adults, people of any age can experience tinnitus.

What causes tinnitus?

There are many reasons why you may experience tinnitus.

Damage to the middle ear. The most common cause of tinnitus is damage to the middle or inner ear. When this part of your ear is damaged, it affects the way your brain processes sound.

Damage to your eardrums. Changes to your ear drum can interfere with the proper conduction of sound.

Tumours. Growths in the ear or on the auditory nerve may also cause ringing in the ears.

Loud sounds. Exposure to very loud sounds on a regular basis can cause damage to the middle ear and result in tinnitus in some people.

Medication. Some drugs are known to cause tinnitus. These include some antibiotics, some antimalarial drugs, some chemotherapy drugs, aspirin taken in large doses daily for a prolonged period and loop diuretic medications.

Other possible causes include age, high blood pressure and cholesterol, earwax build-up, injury to the head or neck, jaw joint disorders and Merniere’s disease, and inner ear condition that affects hearing and balance.

Is tinnitus preventable?

Being aware of the possible causes of tinnitus helps you to avoid putting yourself at risk. The major thing you can control is the volume at which you listen to music and watch TV. You should also wear ear protective covers such as ear plugs when exposed to loud sounds. Also get your hearing tested regularly so your doctor can apply proactive preventive treatment once hearing loss is diagnosed. The earlier problems are identified, the more can be done to prevent further hearing loss.

When to see an ENT specialist

Tinnitus itself is not a serious medical condition but the effects of it can be severe if not well managed. The constant noise can be frustrating, cause stress and affect your social life and mental health. If you are worried about how you are managing tinnitus in any way, especially if it is affecting how you work, hear or sleep or if you feel suicidal, see a doctor immediately as there are treatments that will help you manage tinnitus, reduce the intensity of the symptoms and help you lead a normal life.

Dr Rebecca Heywood

ENT specialist Dr Rebecca Heywood is a British ENT surgeon (otorhinolaryngologist) specialising in ear and hearing disorders and hearing implants. She currently practices at Advanced ENT Centre at Gleneagles Medical Centre in Singapore and works as a visiting consultant at Nuffield Medical, Royal Healthcare, Raffles Hospital, Thompson Medical Centre and Sengkang General Hospital.

Location & Hours

Nuffield ENT

Nuffield Medical Centre

501 Orchard Road

#05-15 Wheelock Place

Singapore 238880

Monday - Friday | 9 am - 6 pm

Saturday | 9 am - 1 pm

Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays

Tel: +65 6950 2869 / 8805 0324

© Rebecca Heywood | All Rights Reserved