Tinnitus is a condition that refers to the sensation or experience of hearing noises that aren’t caused by external sources. The sounds can differ, from buzzing and ringing to whistling and chirping, vary in loudness, and can be continuous or intermittent. Generally, it’s worse if there’s minimal or no background noise, making it more noticeable at night when trying to rest in quiet rooms. In rare instances, the sound can beat simultaneously with the heart, referred to as pulsatile tinnitus.
The condition is common, affecting millions of adults in the United States alone. For many, it’s treated as a mere nuisance. However, in more severe cases, tinnitus may impact the ability of people to sleep or concentrate, eventually resulting in work and relationship interference and affecting the quality of life. Also, while it’s often associated with hearing loss, not enough evidence supports that it causes or can be caused by hearing loss. In specific instances, it can disappear once the underlying conditions are treated. But more often than not, it persists even after. And in this post, we’ll cover some of the most common causes of tinnitus.
Neck or Head Injuries
While tinnitus can manifest due to prolonged or long-term exposure to loud noises or hearing loss, the condition can also occur because of neck or head injuries. Research has shown that they can impact brainstem nerves and structures associated with hearing. And if they’re damaged or compressed due to trauma, it can result in tinnitus. Unexplained ringing or noises caused by jaw, head, or neck injuries are typically called somatic tinnitus. Often, it impacts only one ear, but it’s not uncommon to experience tinnitus in both.
Some researchers believe the manifestation of tinnitus resulting from these injuries to be more severe due to the louder sounds it produces. The noises can significantly impact concentration, focus, and relaxation. In addition, they can grow more audible when the jaw is clenched, or the neck is stiffened and moved in specific positions. Because of the severity, many often seek medical care sooner than those suffering from the condition due to other causes. Usually, non-invasive procedures and treatments like physical therapy and massages can alleviate some symptoms. Anti-inflammatory medication can also help people find relief.