Q: I have heard a low-level ringing in my ears for years. What is it and why is it getting louder?
A: The ringing you hear is called tinnitus. If you have heard the ringing for years, it is most likely caused by an errant signal to your brain from your ear’s cochlea – the organ in your inner ear that translates sound waves into nerve impulses and sends them to your brain. When the cochlea has been injured or irritated by noise or an accident, it can send a signal to the brain even when no sound it present.
Many people hear a distinct ringing in their ears for 10-20 seconds at a time. This temporary ringing is more likely caused by changes in blood sugar, blood pressure, or other short-term metabolic alterations.
As your natural hearing diminishes over time, your tinnitus can become more prominent. Call the Better Hearing Center for a tinnitus assessment and ask for a hearing test. If you have some hearing loss, I will program a pair of hearing aids for you to listen to. You will likely notice a reduction in the ringing while also hearing better. Check our website for patient comments.