Tinnitus is often called "ringing in the ears." But it could be any kind of sound -- clicking, roaring, whooshing, or hissing -- that doesn't go away.
It isn't a disease. It means you may have problems with your ear and the parts of your brain that process sound. It could also be due to another health problem.
How do you know if you have it? Your doctor will make the final call, but you can ask yourself these questions.
Do you hear noises that people around you don't hear?
When you have tinnitus, you're the only one that notices the ringing, buzzing, or other noise. Other people don't.
Do you take medication?
More than 200 drugs can cause tinnitus, especially when you start or stop taking them. These include pain relievers like ibuprofen or naproxen, as well as certain antibiotics, diuretics, aspirin, and chemotherapy medicines.
The form that tinnitus takes can vary depending on the drug and its dose. Don't stop taking a medication without talking to your doctor first.
Are you around loud sounds?
Lots of blaring noises where you live or work can cause hearing loss that triggers tinnitus. Those sounds could be anything from roaring machines and lawn equipment to concerts and sporting events.
Tinnitus can build up over the years or stem from a single loud event, like an engine backfire.
Stay away from loud noises if you can. If you can't, wear ear protection. And turn that music down.
Do you have a cold or ear infection?
Treating the cause should ease your symptoms. But long-term blockage sometimes leads to having the hearing condition permanently.
Do you get migraines?
Have you ever had a serious head or neck injury?
Do you have jaw problems?
Sometimes tinnitus is caused by temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), a group of conditions that affect jaw movement. Damage to any of the muscles, ligaments, or cartilage in that area can lead to the hearing problem. Easing TMJ symptoms should help.
Do you have high blood pressure?
Do you drink a lot of caffeine or alcohol?
Cut back if you’re a coffee fiend or if you can’t go without a daily cocktail. That might make a difference in what you hear.
Are you under a lot of stress?
Tension, anxiety, and depression can trigger tinnitus. Try relaxation therapy, hypnosis, yoga, or whatever works for you. Whether it helps a case of tinnitus or not, it's good for your overall health.
Do you have another medical condition?
Tinnitus has been linked to diabetes, fibromyalgia, allergies, low vitamin levels, hormonal changes, and autoimmune disorders like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It’s also tied to Ménière's disease, a condition that causes hearing loss and vertigo, a spinning sensation.