Possible Causes of Tinnitus Syndrome
- Spinal stenosis, arthritis, osteoporosis, spondylosis, trauma, and injury to the cervical spine (neck area) can cause turbulent blood flow to the inner ear caused by a pinching or damaging of nerves leading out of the spine or of the spinal cord resulting in tinnitus. This is actually referred to as Barre Lieou Syndrome/Disease.
- Head or neck tumors (very rare).
- TMJ ~ Temporomandibular (tem-puh-roe-man-DIB-u-lur) Joint Disorder, which is also referred to as CMD (Cranio-Mandibular Dysfunction).
- A misfiring nerve in the face associated with muscle tension or injury to the facial nerve can signal to the brain that the ears are plugged.
- A-V malformation (a malformation of the connections between arteries and veins which causes "head" noise).
- Basilar artery migraines are migraines without the usual pain which can, both, affect your vision and cause tinnitus.
- Whiplash. No matter how distant in your past your whiplash occurred, it can be the cause of dizziness, lack of concentration, sleep disorder, face neuralgia (pain), a headache at the top of your head (scalp) and tinnitus. Whiplash and the turning or pulling of the neck joints involved can cause vascular spasms in the brainstem and muscle tension or pain in the head, neck, and shoulders.
- Impacted ear wax.
- Auditory nerve damage.
- Inner ear hair cell disruption (broken or bent fine hairs of the inner ear, which cannot hold their electrical charge and leak random electrical impulses to the brain as noise).
- Detached inner ear crystals.
- Otosclerosis (stiffening of the 3 tiny middle ear bones)
- A blocked eustachian tube might be caused by a tube which is filled with sticky mucus. Normally, the eustachian tubes open frequently and widely enough to equalize changes in air pressure. Eustachian tubes are, sometimes, genetically created too small and can't open wide enough to drain out all the mucus, much less balance the air pressure between the inside of your body and the outside environment. If for some reason these tubes are “sticky” you could suffer from ear popping noises, vibrations, a feeling of fullness in the ear, and decreased hearing ability. It can cause tinnitus and balance problems.
- Colds and allergies can create problems for eustachian tubes. If you have a stuffy nose, you probably also have stuffy ears. If you have tinnitus already the noise can become even more pronounced to the point of not being able to ignore it. If you do not have tinnitus, you may have it while your eustachian tube is closed. Symptoms of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD) may include dizziness, feeling off-balance, light-headedness, bouts of vertigo, hearing loss, or hearing loss that worsens and then returns to the previous level when the tube reopens. You may also experience a feeling of fullness or clogging in the ear, the side of the face, or behind the eye on the same side of the head. Symptoms cannot be relieved by swallowing, yawning, nose blowing, or chewing.
- Muscle tension that pulls on the tiny muscles of the inner ear can also cause tinnitus. Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) can be the complete cause of, both, tinnitus and Meniere's. TMS is a condition where muscles are deprived of oxygen due to ongoing or suppressed mental and emotional stress. The brain reduces blood flow (which carries oxygen) to certain muscles which results in painful knots and shrinkage of the muscles involved. If these muscles relate to the ear and pull on the tympanic muscle of the middle ear tinnitus and/or hyperacusis (noise sensitivity) can be a result. Relaxation techniques, such as massage therapy and breathing exercises may help.
- While hearing loss may cause tinnitus symptoms, it is important to understand not everyone with hearing loss has tinnitus. In fact, those with no hearing loss can also have tinnitus. The fact that you have both may or may not be related.
The 4 Types of Hearing Loss Associated with Tinnitus Syndrome
Sensorineural - It's caused by damage to the inner nerves that connect the brain and the inner ear.
Conductive - The inner ear can't process sound correctly, which lessens hearing and is usually a middle or outer ear problem.
Mixed - A combination of the first two listed above.
Unilateral - Hearing loss only occurs in one ear. With no signs of damage, it is a complete mystery.
Spiritual/Psychological Cause of Tinnitus: There is something you do not want to hear or be bothered with, perhaps your own inner voice. As a result, you are covering it up with noise or going deaf to avoid it. Either way, you are not wishing to listen. What is it? What's got your internal teapot whistling?
Associated Chakra(s): 4th (Heart) and 5th (Throat) chakras
Associated Aura Color Personalities: Green & Blue Aura Color Personalities
Associated Energy Meridian(s): Heart, Kidney, Gallbladder & Small Intestine
Associated Symptoms & Syndromes
- Sjogren's Disease (an auto-immune disorder, often associated with AIED)
- AIED (Auto Immune Ear Disease). Normally, your immune system attacks only the 'bad guys' (germs, bacteria, viruses, and cells from other organisms) in order to keep you from getting ill. However, sometimes, something goes haywire with your immune system and your body can't determine the good guys from the bad guys. It ends up fighting both. AIED is an autoimmune disorder. The immune system attacks your inner ear tissues thinking that there is an infection or some other malady to ward off. What it does is create a sensorineural hearing loss (nerve deafness). Symptoms of AIED are tinnitus, dizziness or being off balance and a feeling of ear fullness. 75% of all those with autoimmune disorders occur in women (probably due to hormones). AIED is usually found to be in occurrence with other autoimmune disorders, such as Sjogren's Syndrome. Antibodies in blood tests, specifically for the ear, do not appear for 30% of all patients who actually have them.
- Barre Lieou Syndrome is characterized by headache (especially cluster or migraine), possible ear, dental or face pain, sinus congestion, a sense that your eye is being pulled outward, light sensitivity, hoarseness, loss of voice, tinnitus, dizziness, vertigo, a feeling of being off balance, vomiting, blurred vision, a tearing of the eyes (lacrimation), facial numbness or swelling on one side of the face, neck pain, shoulder pain, pins and needles in the hand or forearm, poor memory, thinking disorders, anxiety and depression, severe fatigue, muscle weakness, and possible blue coloration of the face due to cyanosis of the face.
- Any sleep disorder, such as Sleep Apnea (which reduces the flow of oxygen) and causes near-constant fatigue can cause tinnitus. More and more sleep apnea sufferers are saying that they are plagued with ear and head noise while trying to sleep. They also report that their tinnitus is increased dramatically the mornings after having had trouble sleeping the night before. This is leading doctors to believe that tinnitus may have something to do with decreased oxygen levels to the inner ear. This would cause a drop in ATP (cellular energy). The inner ear is especially sensitive to fluctuations in oxygen and cannot send proper signals to the brain for interpretation without it. If you have ringing in your ears primarily at night that wakes you up and is worse in the morning, then subsides during the day, a sleep disorder may be suspect.
- Candida (yeast infection in the gut).
- Acidosis (poor pH)
- Fibromyalgia may cause tinnitus due to the brain stem not functioning properly (as a result of tension and stress), which makes Tinnitus/Meniere's worse even if it is not the cause.
- Sicca Syndrome (dry eyes, mouth, and/or nose) can mimic or be a part of Sjogren's Disease which is an autoimmune disease that can actually cause auditory nerve damage, resulting in sensorineural hearing loss and a feeling of fullness in the ear, which, in turn, can cause tinnitus. Sicca Syndrome may also be related to hormonal changes.
- Allergies and immune or inflammatory disorders, including Celiac's Disease (allergy to gluten found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, millet, and other grains). Allergies are a specific cause of Pulsatile Tinnitus. Food allergies that can cause tinnitus are chocolate, ice cream, foods that are or contain molds (such as cheese), flavor enhancers (such as monosodium glutamate), preservatives (such as nitrates), hot spices, red wine, grain-based spirits, Aspartame, salicylates (natural chemical compounds found in plants and included in some products), saturated and trans fats (they cause constriction of the vessels in the inner ear due to adrenaline release from these substances), vinegar, soy, honey, very ripe bananas, avocados, and citrus fruit.
Tinnitus is often associated with a headache and memory problems. Many people do not realize that these symptoms are connected. Therefore, it is important to examine underlying causes for these other two (a headache and memory loss) as it may reveal the cause of tinnitus as well. Hormonal imbalances are one cause of a headache and memory loss. Hormone-related causes of tinnitus are hypothyroidism, menopause (often going hand in hand with a thyroid disorder), insulin resistance, and serotonin deficiency (often caused by hormonal imbalance).
Emotional/Physical Stress & Tinnitus
Ongoing emotional stress can cause or make tinnitus worse when emotional tension causes the tiny tensor tympani or stapedius muscle to spasm within the ear cavity. Stress reduces serotonin levels in the brain, which is known to cause Tinnitus. Tinnitus sufferers often share traumatic events in common (i.e., the death of a loved one, serious accidents, abuse, surviving an environmental catastrophe, etc.). Adrenal burnout is another cause of tinnitus when the mind and body have endured ongoing stress to the point of creating hormonal imbalances, which heighten ear sensitivity. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) also affects stress hormones.
Toxicity As It Relates to Tinnitus
- Allergies to pollens, pet dander, household molds, drugs, cat saliva (the proteins within it), and dust mites rate high on the list for a tinnitus response. Allergies can also cause the Eustachian tubes not to function correctly. Allergies also tend to reduce the amount of serotonin in the brain. Pulsatile tinnitus is often caused by environmental allergies.
- Food allergies to gluten (found in grains) or to salicylates (naturally occurring chemicals found in plants that ward off disease and insects) can also cause tinnitus. Salicylates have the ability to affect the auditory cortex and periphery of the brain leaving behind balance problems, dizziness, and vertigo. They also cause circulatory problems as they change the width of blood vessels and tinnitus.
- Damp weather can cause tinnitus in those who have arthritic conditions. This is related to inflammation and sensitive nerves and muscles that affect the inner ear.
- A sensitivity to Fluoride and Chlorine added to tap water and fluoride added to toothpaste and mouthwash are known to cause tinnitus.
- Caffeine and other stimulants, such as nicotine, reduce serotonin levels and can bring about tinnitus.
- Marijuana, recreational drugs, and prescription drugs can cause tinnitus. Aspirin-containing salicylates are high on the list for causing ringing in the ears. Naproxen and NSAIDs (ototoxic drugs) commonly cause tinnitus. See the list of Tinnitus Causing Drugs.
Blood-Related Causes of Tinnitus
- Lack of Adenosine Triphosphate (cellular energy) caused by a lack of oxygen or inability of the cells to absorb nutrients.
- Homocysteine is the result of the breakdown of the sulfur-containing amino acid (derived from protein), methionine, in the blood. When levels of homocysteine become too high they can cause nerve damage to the ears and other parts of the body. This nerve damage may cause nerve deafness which leads to ear noise and ringing. Pulsatile Tinnitus can be caused by higher than normal homocysteine levels. High levels of homocysteine can also cause venous clots (clots in veins) which is a cause of heart attack and stroke. 1 in 100 people are born with a genetic defect that causes high homocysteine levels, but in the majority of cases, it is the acid forming diet causing pH imbalance, which is at fault. Poor pH imbalance reflects poor blood and brain chemistry.
- Excess blood sugar triggers insulin to release adrenaline, a hormone that causes constriction of the blood vessels in the inner ear. Ears are extremely sensitive to sugar, or the lack of, and it can take days for the ears to recover from just one episode of unstable blood sugar. So, if you are constantly having ear noises, blood sugar problems, such as hyperinsulinemia, diabetes, or reactive hypoglycemia may be to blame.
- Blood circulation, blood pressure (too high, too low and/or fluctuating), or platelet problems. Narrowing of a vein or blood vessel can cause turbulent blood flow to the ear which can cause ear noise. So can built up plaque in the carotid artery or jugular vein.
The Brain, Acidity & Tinnitus
As previously mentioned, low serotonin levels can cause tinnitus. Low serotonin levels can also cause depression which is often listed as a cause of tinnitus. But, it’s important to note that not all those suffering from depression have tinnitus as a co-symptom.
The brain requires high levels of energy. When there is too little glucose (blood sugar) for energy the brain is impaired. This causes confusion, brain fog, and the inability of the brain to neutralize blood acids. This acid waste in the brain builds and causes cells of the brain to function improperly. There’s a whole science behind these workings of the brain, but, basically, when brain fluids become too acidic, the brain's tissues begin to absorb the acids. As acid-washed brain cells die, they break down and create more acid waste. These acids are often carried elsewhere in the body and deposited, but not before the brain reaches its full capacity of them. Genetic defects and brain injuries may also cause the brain not to neutralize acids.
Toxic acid waste in the brain causes the nerve synapses in the brain to become inflamed. This can cause dis-ease and disorders, such as depression, bipolar disease, anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias depending on which part of the brain is inflamed. In the case of tinnitus, it is the hearing center (the auditory cortex) is affected. Brain acidosis (toxins) can also cause Parkinson's, epilepsy, Alzheimer's, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and other cognitive disorders and diseases. more. However, having tinnitus it does not guarantee you will go on to develop any these conditions like some “opportunists” are saying.
Also, as brain acidity increases, excess firing in the brain increases, meaning the brain sends more and more messages as it is trying to compensate for so much acid. Studies show those with tinnitus have excess firing in the emotional center (Limbic system) of the brain. If you have been eating toxic foods, breathing toxic air, using toxic products, been through a traumatic situation, or in a situation of ongoing emotionally toxic stress, your brain may be toxic.
The good news is the brain can repair itself and grow new cells at any time, regardless of genetics, trauma, or illness. You can reduce blood acidity of your brain by dealing with stress in positive ways, eating healthy foods (balancing your pH), and by engaging in regular exercise.
The Hearing Centers in the Brain, The Amygdalae & Tinnitus
Studies also show that external sounds presented to one ear at a time caused the auditory cortex (hearing centers), both, left and right to react on both sides. But when there are internal noises being heard only by the individual, it shows only one side (the opposite side) of the hearing center to react, which suggests poor brain activity and nerve malfunction in the brain. Additionally, the amygdalae (the emotional processing glands in the limbic system of the brain) may also cause Tinnitus when they are oversensitive. This may be due to high blood acid levels (poor pH) in the brain, which are affecting a particular side of the brain as well as the amygdalae.
Hormone-Related Causes of Tinnitus
It is not completely understood if tinnitus is more an age-related syndrome or more related to hormonal changes. It appears there is growing evidence linking tinnitus to a shift in hormones affecting the brain, as it has been proven that women who are about to begin their monthly cycle, pregnant women or women having had hysterectomies have a greater incidence of tinnitus (or the worsening of it) during and after these experiences.
Menopause is also, for many women, the time of life when symptoms of tinnitus become bothersome. During menopause serotonin levels in the brain decrease. Also, it’s during the menopausal years that the thyroid gland can begin to act up. Men can also experience tinnitus during andropause. As hormones fluctuate, electrical nerve impulses are not always fired properly.
Aldosterone is a type of hormone that regulates electrolytes (minerals such as sodium and potassium) in the body. This helps to maintain healthy levels of body fluids and blood pressure. Case studies show those with tinnitus have been shown to have lowered Aldosterone levels.
Hypothyroidism (not enough thyroid hormone) and hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone) can each cause tinnitus, imbalance, dizziness, and vertigo.
Electromagnetic Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus is an alarm ringing that a path of energy in the body is not functioning properly. Also, when brain acidity causes a misfiring in the hearing centers of the brain, the misfire actually causes a misdirection of energy. This misdirection of energy continues to send a message, but down an incorrect path. This is referred to as a faulty loop.
As the brain tries to compensate, internal noises are heard. In the case of tinnitus, the cells in the hearing center part of the brain and the cells of the inner ears that are work together in sending messages back and forth about what is being heard by way of the body's energy meridians are being rerouted. There's a sever of communication between body and brain resulting in tinnitus.
Researchers in Buffalo, NY have pinpointed exact areas of the brain responsible for ringing in the ears. Traditional Chinese practitioners treat energy flow patterns in the body (disturbed or blocked Qi) and relate tinnitus to the Kidney, Heart, and Gallbladder energy meridians. Energy meridians may or may not have anything to do with the actual heart, kidney or gallbladder.
Degenerative Disk Disease & Tinnitus
Both, Tinnitus and Meniere's Disease can be caused by degenerative disks in your neck, whether due to whiplash, arthritic disease or aging. Studies show that 50% of people 50 years and older have some sort of disk or bone degeneration of the neck. However, not all people experience pain or tinnitus from these conditions.
If the cushioning (cartilage) between the bones in your neck disappear, your bones will automatically develop bones spurs to keep your bones apart. Bone spurs often sound like gravel when you twist your neck from side to side. These bone spurs are often not enough to keep the spinal vertebrae from pinching on nerves and often the bone spurs do this as well.
Weak nerve impulses from damaged or pinched nerves can send signals up the spine that have to be descrambled (mostly by the brain), which are not understood, lead to ear noise, feelings of inner ear pressure (which may or may not really be there), a sense of imbalance, and hearing loss. Left untreated, it can lead to problems with walking (balance and gait).
Disk degeneration can be related not just to wear and tear but to hormonal changes.
The Central Nervous System & Tinnitus
Certain individuals (including Highly Sensitive People) have highly sensitive nervous systems. Tinnitus may be related to problems in the Central Nervous System (the spine and brain) which is run by the brain.
Because the function of the auditory (hearing) nerve is to carry sound, it produces noise when irritated from any source. This means tinnitus may not originate from the ears at all, but from an irritation somewhere else in the body that affects the auditory nerve.
As stated already, tinnitus can be present without hearing loss. And, just because you happen to have hearing loss, it doesn't mean that it is hearing loss causing your tinnitus.
What Doctors Doing for Tinnitus
Medical professionals are treating tinnitus with antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and anticonvulsants. A popular anticonvulsant is Neurontin (gabapentin), which is also used for diabetic neuropathy, menopause, hypothyroidism, migraine, and Burning Mouth Syndrome.
They are also using Klonopin. Both, Nuerontin and Klonopin slow down electrical activity in the brain. This leads me to believe that one of the key causes of tinnitus is over-stimulation.
You are encouraged to look up the side effects of these drugs before trying them to relieve tinnitus. There is currently no specific drug or herbal remedy that will remove tinnitus completely and forever. If you run across something that takes your tinnitus away, please contact me at once so it may be shared with others. Better yet, write a book and make a million dollars!
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