Ringing in the left ear, also known as tinnitus or tinnitus aurium, might be caused by a large number of conditions. Ringing in just one ear is generally caused by something that has damaged one ear or caused a malfunction in one ear. In some cases, ringing in the left ear is temporary and is a sign of congestion. In other cases, however, it can indicate that a more significant disease is at work.
Doctors can eliminate some sources for tinnitus if a person only hears ringing in the left ear. For example, pulsatile tinnitus that is caused by a vascular disease is more likely to cause ringing in both ears. However, there are a number of possibilities for this symptom and these causes range from simple congestion to serious infections and disease.
The most common explanations for ringing in the left ear are related to ear damage, joint and muscle malfunctions, and congestion. Less commonly, ringing in the left ear may be related to a disease or infection.
Temporary Ringing in the Left Ear
In cases of temporary exposure to a loud noise on the left side of the head, ringing in the left ear is common. A gun shot, a car backfiring, or a speaker blowing suddenly can cause a loud burst of sound to enter the ear and resonate (echo) for several minutes after the sound ends. Some people even report temporary deafness in the left ear as a result of loud noises. Although this is most often a temporary problem via a tinnitus cure, loud noises can cause permanent damage. If an individual experiences hearing loss or repeated ringing in the left ear over a period of years following the event, it can help doctors determine if an injury was sustained.
Sinus congestion, allergies, and head colds can cause the Eustachian tube to become blocked and cause temporary ringing in the left ear, as well. The Eustachian tube is connected from the sinus system to the middle ear to equalize air pressure differences between the outside world and the middle ear. If this tube becomes blocked (or if sinus drainage causes a suction), ringing in the left or right ear might occur. Pregnancy can also cause ringing in the left ear due to increased heart activity, but this will generally occur in both ears for most people.
Some individuals who experienced chronic ear infections in childhood may report a crackling noise in the left ear or both ear when swallowing or moving the jaw because of fluid that remains in the middle ear. This is usually an indication of a chronic condition in which fluid is always present in the middle ear.
Frequent or Long-Term Ringing in the Left Ear
Muscle spasms are sometimes reported as ringing in the ear. Muscle spasm tinnitus is usually described as a series of back to back clicking or crackling noises. Muscles in the ear that work with the ear drum and other muscles near the ear can sometimes be heard by an individual. Ringing in the left ear that is caused by a muscle spasm can sometimes be heard by a doctor with a hearing device.
TMJ is a condition in which one or both sides of the jaw malfunction and either lock (commonly called “lockjaw”) or pop when the individual moves his jaw. This can be a very faint sound and can make it difficult to determine the source of the sound. This type of ringing in the left ear is more less of a “ring” and sounds more like a popping noise.
Age related hearing loss and hearing loss caused by trauma can cause ringing in the left ear, as well. While most loud noises and aging processes that cause hearing loss damage both ears, it is possible that only the left ear is currently affected by the injury. When cells in the ear begin to die, they send signals to the brain as if they were receiving a sound wave. Even though this is a “false alarm” to the brain, we still hear the sound because the brain is still working as it should and interpreting the signal from the cell.
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