man-having-ear-pain
Medically reviewed by Richard Honaker M.D.

I am Emily, 19 years old, and I have been suffering from a constant ringing in one ear only for the last six months.

As my left ear ringing got worse, I knew there was something wrong.

It all started six months ago when I was applying to different universities. I was sitting on my laptop when suddenly I started hearing my left ear ringing. I ignored it at first, but with time, it worsened.

Persistent headaches accompanied the constant ringing in one ear only. It was hard to function properly, and I used to think to myself, “What is this? Why is this happening? What should I do?”

I tried talking to my parents, but they did not take me seriously and told me that it might be due to stress and overthinking.

Until one night, the ringing was so annoying and loud that I wanted to rip my ear out. I remember yelling, “ Make it stop! Make it stop!”

Ringing in one ear only doctor

I decided to seek help and discovered Your Doctors Online.

Desperate for help, I searched for my symptoms over the internet and discovered Your Doctors Online. Dr. Fariah Hanif took my history and reassured me that we would find a solution.

She questioned me regarding different triggers. How does the left ear ringing start? Does it get worse or better over time? Etc.

After reviewing my history, she asked me if I had a family history of blood pressure, and I told her yes, my mother had blood pressure issues and was taking medications for it.

To my shock, Dr. Fariah Hanif told me to get my blood pressure checked as soon as possible. I was a little confused as the ringing was in my ear.

“How does that justify the constant ringing in one ear only? Did I waste my time?” I thought to myself.

To my surprise, the ER doctors associated the left ear ringing with hypertension as well.

Determined to prove the doctor wrong, I went to the ER and asked the nurse to check my blood pressure. To my astonishment, they told me it was quite high and gave me medications immediately to lower my blood pressure.

As soon as I got home, I told Dr. Hanif that my blood pressure was 160/100 mmHg and gave me medications for hypertension.

Dr. Hanif then guided me that high blood pressure can cause blood to move through veins and arteries forcefully. This can lead to ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus.

She further told me that I needed to get certain blood tests done to rule out any other underlying conditions because I was young and had a family history of high blood pressure. To do this, I had to report to my nearest hospital and see a medical specialist.

Without Your Doctors Online, I wouldn’t have discovered the cause of left ear ringing.

The team at Your Doctors Online has supported me so much since then.

I am mentally at peace, knowing that I can visit an online doctor without hesitation any time of the day. My life has taken a 360-degree turn, thanks to Your Doctors Online.

Nowadays, I visit my medical specialist monthly and monitor my blood pressure daily while staying in touch with the team at Your Doctors Online.

Information on Tinnitus added by Your Doctors Online Team:

Older people, especially those working or living in a noisy area for years, often complain of ringing in the ear. Tinnitus or ringing in the ear is the sensation of buzzing, humming, hissing sound in the ear without it being from an outside source.

Prevalence

In the United States, almost 50 million adults are affected by tinnitus. Almost 7.1 million people are affected by tinnitus in the UK.

Tinnitus doctor

What causes tinnitus?

  • Almost 90% of cases of tinnitus are due to frequent exposure to loud sounds. Noise puts severe stress on the auditory cells of the ear, thus damaging them and causing hearing loss as well. That is why many cases of noise-induced tinnitus show moderate to varying levels of hearing loss.
  • Sometimes an infection of the ear may cause tinnitus in that ear.
  • Tumor of the ear, a buildup of ear wax, and any other condition obstructing the auditory pathway may cause tinnitus.
  • Drugs like aspirin, certain anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, some antibiotics, and chemotherapy drugs may trigger or worsen tinnitus.
  • Destruction of inner cells of cochlea due to continuous low frequency (loud) sounds.
  • High blood pressure leading to hypertension is also a contributing factor in causing tinnitus.

Hypertension induced tinnitus

Another cause of tinnitus is higher than normal blood pressure. People with high blood pressure are at great risk of tinnitus. The reason for this is that when the pressure of blood is higher than normal, the force put on the delicate blood vessels of the auditory system increases. Therefore, the patient feels a beating or pulsating sound, i.e. tinnitus.

What is the difference between tinnitus and pulsatile tinnitus?

Tinnitus is hearing sound in the absence of an external source. It is often described as ringing, buzzing, hissing, roaring, or clicking noises in the ears or head. Tinnitus can vary in intensity and can be continuous or intermittent. It is a symptom rather than a disease and can have various underlying causes.

Pulsatile tinnitus is a specific type characterized by hearing rhythmic sounds that correspond to the individual’s heartbeat or pulse. It is often described as a thumping or whooshing sound that syncs with the heartbeat. Pulsatile tinnitus is less common than the more typical form of tinnitus.

The key distinction between tinnitus and pulsatile tinnitus lies in the nature of sound perception. In tinnitus, the sound is usually constant and unrelated to the heartbeat. 

Pulsatile tinnitus, however, is specifically associated with the blood flow and circulation in the body. It occurs when there is an abnormality in the blood vessels near the ear, causing sounds related to the flow of blood to be perceived as tinnitus. Causes include:

  • Vascular abnormalities: Conditions like arteriovenous malformation (AVM), abnormal connections between arteries and veins, or vascular tumours can result in pulsatile tinnitus.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension): Elevated blood pressure can cause changes in blood flow and contribute to pulsatile tinnitus.
  • Atherosclerosis: Narrowing or hardening of the blood vessels can disrupt normal blood flow and lead to pulsatile tinnitus.
  • Other factors: Pulsatile tinnitus can also be caused by conditions like middle ear infections, Eustachian tube dysfunction, certain medications, or anatomical variations in the blood vessels.

If you experience pulsatile tinnitus, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional or an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist for a thorough evaluation.

Diagnosis

Tinnitus itself does not cause hearing loss; however, the loud sounds causing tinnitus cause hearing loss if neglected. Diagnosis is made keeping in view the social and occupational history of the patient to see. If tinnitus is not caused by noise, the doctor may ask for the medical history of the patient in order to find out any circulatory disorder (high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, etc.).

Treatment for ringing in ears:

Tinnitus is not a serious condition, and one can experience it on and off. The treatment of tinnitus is not well defined till the moment and depends entirely upon the underlying cause. Once the underlying cause is found, it is treated accordingly.

  • If tinnitus is due to the accumulation of ear wax, the doctor will recommend ear cleaning.
  • If tinnitus is due to damage to blood vessels, the doctor may recommend drugs to control blood pressure or any surgical procedure if needed.
  • Noise-induced tinnitus may be rectified by using hearing aids as the auditory system is not working properly.
  • Drugs like antibiotics, aspirin, ibuprofen may cause tinnitus. In that case, the doctor recommends cutting off the very drug that is causing tinnitus.
  • Masking devices are also used for patients with tinnitus. These devices produce certain sound waves that reduce the symptoms of tinnitus.
  • White noise-creating machines are also a source of comfort for people with severe tinnitus as they produce certain noises that aid in fall asleep. These devices relieve the ringing sounds in the ear to an appreciable extent.

How to prevent tinnitus?

  1. If you are an inhabitant of a noisy area or if your workplace is quite noisy, your ears are in extreme danger of hearing loss and tinnitus. In order to protect your ear from auditory losses, make sure to wear an over-the-ear protection device that will mask low-frequency sound waves.
  2. Please do not listen to music at high volume as it badly damages your ears.
  3. Check for the symptoms of hypertension regularly.
  4. Reduce alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine consumption as these cause high blood pressure leading to tinnitus.

For any more questions or concerns, please consult our online doctors for FREE, 24/7, from the comfort of your home. Our doctors also provide prescriptions within minutes.

What should I avoid if I have tinnitus?

If you have tinnitus, avoiding certain things that can aggravate or worsen your symptoms is essential. While these recommendations may vary from person to person, here are some general guidelines to consider:

Loud noises: 

Exposure to loud noises can significantly trigger tinnitus. Avoid prolonged exposure to loud music, machinery, power tools, concerts, or any other sources of loud noises. If you cannot avoid such situations, use earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones to protect your ears.

Stress and anxiety: 

This can exacerbate tinnitus symptoms. Stress management techniques such as meditation, relaxation, deep breathing, or engaging in activities that help you unwind and relax will help.

Caffeine and stimulants: 

Caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants can worsen tinnitus for some individuals. Monitor your intake of caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, and energy drinks, and reduce or eliminate them if you notice a correlation with increased tinnitus symptoms.

Salty foods: 

Excessive consumption of sodium (salt) can lead to fluid retention and elevation of blood pressure, which may sometimes aggravate tinnitus. Monitor your salt intake and try to reduce it if necessary.

Alcohol: 

Alcohol is known to dilate blood vessels, increasing blood flow and potentially worsening tinnitus symptoms for some people. Limit your alcohol consumption or, if possible, avoid it altogether to see if it impacts your tinnitus.

Medications: 

Certain antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antidepressants, and diuretics have been reported to cause or intensify tinnitus in some individuals. Consult with your healthcare provider about your medications to determine if any could contribute to your symptoms.

Fatigue and inadequate sleep: 

Lack of sleep and excessive fatigue can make tinnitus more noticeable and bothersome. Ensure you get enough restful sleep.

Earwax buildup: 

Excessive earwax can worsen tinnitus or worsen existing symptoms. Avoid using swabs or objects to clean your ears, as they can push the wax further into the ear canal. 

Certain foods and drinks: 

Some individuals find that certain foods or beverages can trigger or worsen their tinnitus. While the specific triggers can vary, common culprits include processed foods, artificial sweeteners, MSG (monosodium glutamate), and high-sugar foods. Pay attention to your diet and note if any particular items affect your tinnitus.

Excessive use of headphones: 

Prolonged use of headphones or earphones, especially at high volume levels, can harm your hearing health and potentially worsen tinnitus. If you need to use headphones, choose noise-cancelling and moderate the volume.

Excessive physical exertion:

Intense physical activities that cause straining or exertion can increase blood pressure and worsen tinnitus symptoms for some individuals. If you notice a correlation between strenuous exercise and your tinnitus, consider adopting moderate-intensity activities and consult with a healthcare professional for guidance.

Allergens and environmental irritants: 

Some people with tinnitus find that specific allergens or environmental irritants can trigger or worsen their symptoms. These can include dust, pollen, pet dander, and chemical fumes. Take steps to minimize exposure to irritants.

Jaw problems (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder – TMJ): 

The exact relationship between TMJ disorders and tinnitus is not fully understood. Still, it is believed that dysfunction in the jaw joint and associated muscles can affect the auditory system and lead to tinnitus. Suppose you have jaw pain, clicking sounds, TMJ-related symptoms, and tinnitus. In that case, it’s advisable to consult a dentist or a healthcare professional specializing in TMJ disorders for evaluation and appropriate management.

Alcohol:

Consuming alcohol can have various effects on tinnitus. While some individuals report that alcohol worsens their tinnitus symptoms, others may experience temporary relief. Alcohol can dilate blood vessels and elevate blood flow, potentially intensifying tinnitus for some people. It’s advisable to monitor your alcohol intake and determine if there is a correlation between your tinnitus and alcohol consumption. If you notice a negative impact, reducing or avoiding alcohol might be beneficial.

Smoking: 

Smoking is known to harm overall health, including hearing health. It can impact the functioning of the auditory system and contribute to tinnitus. Additionally, smoking is associated with an increased risk of developing certain conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, which can also exacerbate tinnitus. Quitting smoking can benefit your overall well-being, including potential improvements in tinnitus symptoms.

FAQs

What heart problems cause ringing in the ears?

Specific heart problems, such as atherosclerosis, high blood pressure (hypertension), turbulent blood flow, cardiac arrhythmias, and patent foramen ovale (PFO), can lead to ringing in the ears (tinnitus). Atherosclerosis, characterized by narrowed and hardened arteries, disrupts blood flow and can contribute to tinnitus. Elevated blood pressure affects blood flow and may lead to tinnitus. Heart conditions causing turbulent blood flow, irregular heart rhythms, and the presence of a patent foramen ovale, a congenital heart defect, can also be associated with tinnitus. It is essential to consult with healthcare professionals or cardiologists to assess and manage these heart problems and their potential impact on tinnitus.

Does ringing ears always mean high blood pressure?

No, ringing ears (tinnitus) does not always indicate high blood pressure. Tinnitus can have various causes; high blood pressure is just one potential factor. Other common causes include exposure to loud noises, age-related hearing loss, earwax buildup, ear infections, certain medications, and underlying medical conditions. Considering a comprehensive range of potential causes is crucial when evaluating tinnitus.

What happens if tinnitus is left untreated?

Untreated tinnitus can result in psychological distress, including anxiety and depression. Sleep disturbances reduce productivity, and difficulties in social interactions may also occur. The persistent presence of tinnitus can have a negative impact on an individual’s mental well-being and overall quality of life. Seeking medical evaluation and treatment is essential to manage tinnitus and mitigate its effects

At Your Doctors Online, we are committed to providing high-quality and trustworthy healthcare information to our users. To ensure the accuracy and reliability of our content, we follow strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references and prioritize primary sources of information. We understand the importance of providing up-to-date and evidence-based healthcare information to our users, and our editorial policy reflects this commitment.

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