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15 Possible Causes of Tinnitus: Survey Results

Little is known what causes ringing in the ears, known as Tinnitus. There is no single characteristic of this ailment.
Little is known what causes ringing in the ears, known as Tinnitus. There is no single characteristic of this ailment. | Source

I have Tinnitus. I also studied statistical analysis in college. Making use of my background, I conducted a survey of Tinnitus sufferers and then analyzed the results.

I compiled the results into a form that can be easily interpreted to show if there are any common causes of Tinnitus.

The results are separated into three categories:

  1. Probably Not Related to Tinnitus
  2. More Likely Related to Tinnitus
  3. Inconclusive Results

In some cases the percentages don’t add up to 100%. This is due to people who were not sure (and therefore did not answer yes or no).

When reviewing the following results, one should keep in mind that statistics can fool us. Since I studied statistical analysis in college, I realize that my research with this survey is not complete. It’s one-sided.

The only way to make sense of the results would be if an equal number of people who didn't have Tinnitus also took the survey. That would balance out the results between both sides, which would provide a more complete picture when comparing answers to the questions.

Since I did not survey people who don't have Tinnitus, the results presented here are inconclusive. Nevertheless, for what it’s worth, it’s interesting to consider the following results.

Probably Not Related to Tinnitus

These are issues that received many more “no” responses than “yes” responses in the survey. These issues may not be related to Tinnitus. They are the following:

  1. Deviated septum - 15% Yes / 69% No
  2. Rosacea - 38% Yes / 62% No
  3. Herniated disc in cervical spine (neck) - 31% Yes / 69% No
  4. Lives near high power electric wires - 17% Yes / 83% No
  5. Tourette - 0% Yes / 100% No
  6. Uses artificial sweeteners - 27% Yes / 73% No
  7. Hit on the ears or sideways slam to the head - 25% Yes / 75% No
  8. Aphasia symptoms (unable to speak for short period) - 7% Yes / 80% No

Analysis:

One of the ideas some professionals have about certain forms of Tinnitus is that it’s a malfunction of the brain, specifically of the auditory functions.

This is thought to be the case when no other cause can be attributed to it, such as is obvious if one has hearing loss.

Look at the results on Tourette’s syndrome. Zero percent of Tinnitus sufferers have it (at least of the few who took the survey). A reverse survey would be useful to compare, to see how many Tourette sufferers have Tinnitus. Unfortunately, I don't have that survey.

The items I put in this survey would show if a malfunction of the brain chemistry might be the cause. However, based on the higher rate of the “no” answers the conclusion is looking like it’s not the case.

I was almost sure I’d see more yes votes for Rosacea. I had this idea in mind that Rosacea can be an ailment that attacks tissues deep inside in addition to the skin on the surface, thus affecting brain function. But what do I know?

Source

More Likely to Be Related to Tinnitus

Four things stood out in my survey with more people saying "yes" and I feel that the medical community should consider investigation of these particular issues.

  1. Vertigo - 54% Yes / 46% No
  2. Have mercury teeth fillings - 62% Yes / 38% No
  3. Has WiFi router in home or work - 92% Yes / 8% No
  4. Stood near loud speakers in discos or nightclubs - 75% Yes / 25% No

CAN VERTIGO CAUSE TINNITUS?

Vertigo was close to the middle, but is leaning towards a possibility. Results can also be in the middle because there are many different reasons for Tinnitus.

CAN MERCURY FILLINGS CAUSE TINNITUS?

I find it interesting how many people with Tinnitus have Mercury fillings. I wonder if this can be a cause.

I once asked my dentist about removing my mercury fillings that I got as a child. He said it’s safer to leaver them, since the removal process can cause more mercury to be released into the system. He said that if left alone, little is absorbed. Not enough to cause trouble. Nevertheless, I wonder about this.

CAN WIFI CAUSE TINNITUS?

I developed Tinnitus in 2005, shortly after WiFi routers started to become a common occurrence in homes and offices. I installed WiFi in my home 2003.

The high 92% percentage of WiFi users is misleading and this result is meaningless, but it’s an interesting situation to consider. It does not mean that WiFi causes Tinnitus. The high score was only because most people have WiFi in their homes these days.

LOUD MUSIC AND TINNITUS

Standing near speakers in a nightclub and listening to loud music is clearly an issue. One surefire cause of Tinnitus is noise induced. Being near an explosion, for example, leaves people with ringing in the ears and possibly loss of hearing.

Standing near loud speakers in a nightclub can cause Tinnitus.
Standing near loud speakers in a nightclub can cause Tinnitus. | Source

Inconclusive Results

I consider the issues that had nearly equal yes and no responses to be inconclusive. They may or may not have anything to do with developing Tinnitus.

  1. Allows water to run in ears during shower – 50% Yes / 50% No
  2. Blows nose hard - 46% Yes / 54% No
  3. Had nosebleeds - 50% Yes / 50% No

Analysis:

Since the results are so balanced with these three items, they should not be ruled out. The results are inconclusive. However, with half the responses being positive, they may be considered a possible cause of Tinnitus.

Do Doctors Care About Tinnitus Research?

There are many possible causes for Tinnitus, ranging from stress to hearing loss. The problem I ran into is that each specialist told me something different, and I never actually found one who knew much about it.

I had one audiologist give me a hearing test. I passed. He couldn't understand why I didn't have hearing loss. What's worse is that he didn't understand the difference between subjective and objective Tinnitus.

The difference is important, and any doctor who does not know this is a quack. The answer to this would indicate if the Tinnitus is a real sound in the ear or if the brain imagines it.

When I asked him about this he admitted he never tested for it. This surprised me because he was a professional audiologist. The test he performed was a total waste of time.

Another doctor did a CT Scan, but then when I asked if the eighth cranial nerve was visualized in the scan, he admitted he did not image that meaningful auditory nerve. What a waste that was!

These doctors bill the insurance companies for this useless work! That's really a shame!

I am sure there are doctors in the field who have integrity and have a desire to make a difference for patients rather than making believe they know something. I welcome any professional who really wants to makes a difference to use my survey results in their own research.

© 2013 Glenn Stok

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Comments 13 comments

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States

I have tinnites, but no vertigo. I have had it a long time and doctors have told me there is not treatment. Thanks for writing about this topic.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 3 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

Pamela99 - Your doctors were honest with you, saying that there is no treatment. The American Tinnitus Association once told me at one of their meetings that if a cure is ever discovered, they would let us know. There are so many out there who claim to know how to treat it. I know, because I experienced the lies first hand.


oldiesmusic profile image

oldiesmusic 3 years ago from United States

Never knew that WiFi really contributed to tinnitus. But I guess there is a connection to it. Last year my home was installed with WiFi router. Since then my tinnitus has become frequent, I didn't even know before that it was called a tinnitus. Even as I cleaned my ears that "tinny" sound won't just go away. There is no treatment as far as I'm concerned. It just comes and goes away.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 3 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

oldiesmusic - You might want to try turning off your WiFi for a while and see if your Tinnitus goes away or improves. Keep in mind that this is not a scientific survey. In the case of WiFi, so many people have it who don't have Tinnitus. The fact that 92% of Tinnitus sufferers say they have WiFi can be misleading, as I mentioned in this article, since most people today already have WiFi in their homes anyway. We would really need to compare to a survey of people who don't have Tinnitus to see if the percentage of WiFi users is lower.

That's why it would be interesting to know if your Tinnitus improves when you go for a few weeks with your WiFi router turned off.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

My husband has tinnitus. He is a former band director, trumpet player, and worked in the oil field as a youth. We think that part of his problem is the loud sounds of being around and playing in bands. The oil field machinery he worked around in his younger days also seems to have affected his hearing mechanisms. He says that it is a constant issue now that he is older. He currently works as a school administrator and the WiFi is always present as well.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 3 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

Denise - Thanks for checking this out. You've been busy, haven't you? Your husband probably has noise induced tinnitus. That's one of the more common types. That idea of mine about WiFi being another cause is questionable. I wish some agency of authority would do research on it. I wonder if we'll ever get an answer to that one.


viking305 profile image

viking305 2 years ago from Ireland

I have suffered from Tinnitus for over 30 years. The cause of mine I believe is working in a factory as a teenager where it was impossible to hear or talk to other workers because of the noise of the machines.

Then about ten years after that I had a very bad chest infection and this caused another terrible noise in my ears. Neither of these noises have gone away and are so irritating and sometimes worse still they aggravate me to distraction.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

Viking305 - It seems that your type of Tinnitus is from excessive noise from your work environment. It's interesting that it got worse when you had a chest infection. That goes to show that very little is still known about Tinnitus. It can be related to so many other illnesses. I'm sorry to hear that yours is aggravating to distraction. Mine was like that at the beginning but I learned to ignore it as best I can.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 17 months ago from Australia

I have had Tinnitus since about 1960 , caused by an industrial accident ( no WiFi around then) I have been through all of the tests and I am convinced that 'doctors' don't know anything / or don't want to know anything about the Problem.

I do use 'masking' methods to cover up the 'ringing' and I do know that stress will make the problem worse.

I was also tested for Meniere's disease but thankfully was cleared:)

I believe that many people develop Tinnitus by not 'protecting' their hearing at a young age and with the advent of ear pods the problem will more than likely get worse and we will have a higher percentage of people with Tinnitus further down the track !


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 17 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

agvulpes - I agree with you that doctors don't know anything about tinnitus. This was proven to me by the many doctors I had gone to when my tinnitus first began. I found it to be a disgrace how doctors lied about knowing how to cure it, when all the "cures" failed. They also could never answer my questions. One doctor even did an MRI and when I asked him if my 8th cranial nerve, which is the auditory nerve, showed up in the MRI, he became infuriated that I knew more than he knew.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 16 months ago

Very interesting survey, but as you say, it isn't conclusive. My brother and I both have tinnitus, and neither of us can remember ever not having it. I worked in radio for 20 years when I was young, and he listened to loud music during the hard rock years. We have both been diagnosed with a hearing loss and were fitted with hearing aids which helped neither of us. We came to the same conclusion, each on our own, that the tinnitus masks sounds in certain auditory ranges and we test out not hearing them. This has yet to be proved, and my audiologist doesn't believe it. Anyway, just adding to your already existing stock of information. If you find a cure, please publish it.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 16 months ago from Long Island, NY Author

MizBejabbers - Sorry to hear that you and your brother both had tinnitus as far back as you remember. I can remember the time when I didn't have it. When it first began, I had hopes of getting back to experiencing the quiet, but that never happened. It became permanent. But I got used to it. I don't have a problem with hearing lose, expect at the one single frequency where my tinnitus is.

I had the same experience with doctors as you had. My audiologist didn't even understand how I can hear everything else. I'm actually surprised that an educated doctor doesn't understand how sound is simply various frequencies. If one is blocked, it doesn't necessarily affect hearing other frequencies. You and I need to find better doctors. Let me know if you find one. :-)


Carmen Flores 3 days ago

About 6 months ago I started to hear noises, such as an old computer's fan buzzing. I've gone to my doctor, who said to get used to it because this comes with age. I'm 51 years old, but don't consider myself as old.

I've also seen an ENT doctor who treated me for an infection. Since that didn't help, he did a hearing test which confirmed no hearing loss. I do, however, suffer from a sinus infection on and off and take antihistamines. I read that these could be causing my problem. I think I may stop taking this for a couple of weeks to see how that goes.

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