causes of tinnitus

Many people with tinnitus believe that they are suffering from a serious physical ailment. In most cases, however, there is no physical cause, and tinnitus is often temporary. It is therefore important to learn about the medical background of tinnitus and to have established diagnostic tests performed. Appropriate therapies should be worked out with competent experts. These therapies should be aimed at avoiding false fears and preventing patients from obsessively focusing on their tinnitus and overreacting.
The word “tinnitus” is derived from the Latin and means “to ring/ringing” or “to sing loudly”. The word “tinnitus” is used to describe sounds experienced by the sufferer for which there are no actual corresponding acoustic signals in the surrounding environment, and which have no meaning for the sufferer.

physical causes

There are numerous possible physical causes for tinnitus: high blood pressure, diseases of the cervical spine, damage to the temporomandibular joint, constriction of blood vessels or swellings of the carotid artery or the blood vessels in the ear, heart valve problems, anaemia, cholesterol problems, previous inflammatory conditions (rubella, toxoplasmosis or flu), medicines (like salicylic acid), poisoning, overactive/underactive thyroid function, diabetes, localised infections such as a blockage in the auditory canal, prolonged middle ear infections or tumours in the inner ear, in the auditory nerve, in the brain stem or in the auditory cortex of the brain.
In most cases, however, none of these concrete physical causes is to blame. Instead, it is more often the case that a disruption in the function of the hair cells in the cochlea triggers perceived sounds and these is magnified by stress.

Sounds are incredibly important in helping us to perceive and understand our environment. In the inner ear (or, more precisely, in the cochlea), around 16,000 hair cells produce constant mechanical and electrical activity in response to sounds.
This activity is transmitted to the auditory cortex in the brain as electrical impulses via the 30,000 threads of the auditory nerve and interpreted by comparing them with stored or remembered acoustic signals. Only once they reach the brain are the sounds translated into speech or music, for example.