15 Possible Causes of Tinnitus: Survey Results

Updated on August 2, 2020
Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok has tinnitus and did a lot of research to understand its complications. He shares his knowledge for those with similar concerns.

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This composition is an analysis of a survey of tinnitus sufferers to determine possible reasons for this ailment that causes ringing in the ears.

I have tinnitus and decided to conduct this survey with my background knowledge of statistical analysis.

The following is my analysis of the results, which I separated into three categories:

  1. Conditions that might be related to tinnitus.
  2. Conditions that are probably not related.
  3. Conditions that have inconclusive results.

Explanation of How the Survey Is Analyzed

Results are broken down into percentages to determine how likely any of the conditions might be a cause of tinnitus. In some cases, the percentages don’t add up to 100%. That 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 isn't very objective. I'll explain why.

The only way to have a non-biased survey would be if an equal number of people who didn't have tinnitus were involved in the study. That would balance out the results between both sides, which would provide a complete picture when comparing answers to the questions.

Since people without tinnitus were not included, the results presented here need to be considered with caution. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to review the results, which could lead to further scientific analysis by doctors interested in such a study.

Conditions That Might 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 investigating these particular issues.

Can Vertigo Cause Tinnitus?

Survey results: 54% Yes / 46% No

Vertigo was close to the middle but is leaning towards a possibility by 54%.

Can Mercury Tooth Fillings Cause Tinnitus?

Survey results: 62% Yes / 38% No

I find it interesting how many people with tinnitus have mercury fillings. I wonder if this can be a cause. 62% is a considerable percentage leaning towards that possibility.

I once asked my dentist about removing the 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 get into the body. He said that if left alone, little is absorbed. Not enough to cause trouble. Nevertheless, I wonder about this.

Can Wi-Fi Cause Tinnitus?

Survey results: 92% Yes / 8% No

I installed a Wi-Fi router in my house in 2003, just two years before my tinnitus began. That was when they started to become common in homes and offices. So I thought that might have been what is causing it for me.

However, I still need to rule that out. That high 92% percentage of Wi-Fi users is misleading. The high score was only because most people have Wi-Fi in their homes these days anyway.

So the 92% result is meaningless. It does not mean that Wi-Fi causes tinnitus. But it's an interesting situation to consider nevertheless.

Can Loud Music Cause Tinnitus?

Survey results: 75% Yes / 25% No

75% of the people who were asked if they ever stood near loudspeakers in discos or nightclubs said they had done that.

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.

Conditions That Are Probably Not Related

These eight issues received many more “no” than “yes” responses, so they may not be related to tinnitus:

  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 Syndrome: 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.

That is thought to be the case when no other cause can be attributed to it, such as is evident 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 study 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 were the cause. However, based on the higher rate of the “no” responses, it looks like that is not the case.

I was almost sure I'd see more affirmative responses for rosacea. I thought that rosacea might attack tissues deep inside, besides just the skin, thus affecting the brain. The survey results disproved that theory.

Standing near loudspeakers in a nightclub can cause tinnitus.
Standing near loudspeakers in a nightclub can cause tinnitus. | Source

Conditions That Have Inconclusive Results

I consider the issues that had nearly equal "yes" and "no" responses inconclusive. These three were more or less balanced:

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

Analysis:

Even though the results are so balanced, these three items should not be ruled out. The results are inconclusive, but with half the responses being positive, they may still be possible.

Do Doctors Know Anything About Tinnitus?

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 that is a quack. The answer to this would indicate if the tinnitus is a real sound in the ear (objective), or if the brain imagines it (subjective).

When I asked him about this, he admitted he never tested for it. That 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 get an image of that significant 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 desire to make a difference for patients rather than make them believe they know something. I welcome any professional who wants to makes a difference to use my survey results in their research.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2013 Glenn Stok

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    • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      16 months ago from Long Island, NY

      Russ Black - The wine or beer might be triggering your tinnitus in your case, if it seems to be correlated. Everyone seems to have different triggers. Thanks for you suggestion.

    • profile image

      Russ Black 

      16 months ago

      Hi Glenn,

      I wouldn't give up on the rosacea link if I were you. I've noticed that sometimes I can drink a glass of wine or beer and notice nothing. Other times it will trigger my rosacea. Those are usually on the same days that my tinnitis seems to be turned up more.

      Btw... I did a google search for this specific link and your article came up.

    • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Nancy - I have no knowledge of clinical reports on Fentanyl. However, it is well known that some experiments doctors have tried to cure tinnitus can have severe negative results.

      The examples I mentioned near the end of this article, that I witnessed myself, indicate how little doctors know or understand about tinnitus.

      I know someone who's doctor performed surgery to eliminate her tinnitus by cutting the 8th cranial nerve. After the surgery she was totally deaf in that ear, but still had tinnitus.

      Button line, be careful how you allow your doctors to experiment on you. I’m glad you pulled through the experiment without lasting damage to your heart and body.

    • profile image

      Nancy 

      2 years ago

      I was using Fentanyl patches until they finally led me to stop breathing. Once the EMTs revived me I spent a week in the hospital. I was fortunate to not have damage to my heart, lungs or brain, however I have tinnitus to a mind numbing extent. Could the fentanyl overdose cause this?

    • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      3 years ago from Long Island, NY

      DzyMsLizzy - I've ruled out WiFi as a cause also. I have also given up with sound machines. I've come to accept my tinnitus as background noise. I guess you did the same thing when you said you let it serve as "white noise" to sleep. Anxiety does indeed make it worse. I'll check out the update to your article.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      3 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Very interesting. I just added an update to my own article on the matter, regarding new information I found.

      As far as WiFi goes, I had the problem long before we had that technology. I know one anecdotal statement is not a sufficient sample for a conclusion of any kind, but I do remain interested in the topic.

      I've worn out two sound machines, and am currently using an app I found for my Kindle. In between, when I've been in a sufficiently calm mood, I've found I can let the tinnitus itself serve as the 'white noise' to let me sleep. (In my case, the sound is a low-pitched humming like a distant electric motor.) It does not work, though, if I am anxious or riled up about some issue. ;)

    • profile image

      Carmen Flores 

      3 years 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.

    • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      5 years ago from Long Island, NY

      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. :-)

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      5 years ago from Beautiful South

      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 imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      5 years ago from Long Island, NY

      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.

    • agvulpes profile image

      Peter 

      5 years 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 imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      6 years ago from Long Island, NY

      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.

    • viking305 profile image

      L M Reid 

      6 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 imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      6 years ago from Long Island, NY

      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.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      6 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 imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      6 years ago from Long Island, NY

      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.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      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.

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