Temporary ringing in the ears can be annoying. But, for more than 50 million people in the U.S., tinnitus—a constant ringing, roaring, clicking, or buzzing in the ears—is long-lasting. That number is expected to rise as tinnitus has been recognized as a potential side effect of COVID-19.
People with tinnitus might overlook some of the common side effects:
- Sleep disturbances
- Poor concentration
Tinnitus can be caused by hearing loss, ear and sinus infections, heart disease, hormonal changes, or earwax buildup. It can also be caused by head or neck injuries and certain medications (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, some antibiotics, cancer drugs, diuretics, antimalarial drugs, and antidepressants). Less common causes can be chronic health conditions and injuries or conditions that affect the nerves in your ear.
Although anyone can develop tinnitus, these factors can increase your risk:
- Exposure to loud noise. This is usually prolonged exposure to heavy equipment or machinery, firearms, music
- Age. As you get older the number of functioning nerve fibers in your ears declines
- Gender. Men are more at risk than women
- Smoking and drinking. Both increase your risk
- Health issues. Obesity, cardiovascular conditions, high blood pressure, history of arthritis or head injury
Solutions for Tinnitus Are Available
If you experience tinnitus you should consult your doctor. The root cause of your tinnitus will determine the treatment. Your treatment could be as simple as changing your medication or removing earwax blockage, or treating a medical condition, or getting hearing aids.