Tinnitus without hearing loss is a sign of a different type of problem than occurs in most individuals. Usually, tinnitus is a result of hearing loss – whether this is because of an injury, infection, illness, or the aging process. However, there are several reasons one might have tinnitus without hearing loss.
The temporary effects of loud noises can cause tinnitus that goes away after a few minutes or hours. In these cases, sound can resonate and “shock” the receptor cells responsible for hearing. While hearing loss can occur, especially if the noise is exceptionally loud or experienced for an extended period of time, it’s possible to just experience tinnitus without hearing loss.
There are other reasons one may experience tinnitus without hearing loss, as well. These types of tinnitus are usually unrelated to the actual structures involved in hearing and have more to do with a person’s metabolic levels and cardiac functions. Occasionally, tinnitus without hearing loss can be related to sinuses although this is somewhat related to the parts of the ear we use for hearing. This sort of tinnitus has different tinnitus treatments.
Reasons for Tinnitus without Hearing Loss
Tinnitus without hearing loss can occur for a variety of reasons and as part of a variety of conditions. Put simply, there are two types of tinnitus that are not related to processes involving hearing loss or ear damage. The first is objective tinnitus (sounds that can be heard by another person, such as a doctor) and subjective tinnitus (sounds that are only heard by the person suffering tinnitus).
From an objective tinnitus perspective, the most common causes of tinnitus without hearing loss are muscle spasms, blood circulation and cardiac function, or bone\joint issues. TMJ is a condition involving the jaw, where a person’s jaw joint gets stuck (lock jaw) or makes clicking noises. This isn’t “technically” a cause of tinnitus, but until diagnosis is made the person may think that it is tinnitus.
More commonly, objective tinnitus results from an increased sound of the blood flowing through the ears. In some cases, hypertension (elevated blood pressure) is the reason for tinnitus without hearing loss. In this case, blood turbulence may be perceived as a loud roaring or rushing sound. Alternatively, it may be described as a pulsing sound that keeps rhythm with one’s heartbeat.
Muscle spasms near the ear or spasms of the muscles that control the ear drum can cause tinnitus without hearing loss. Metabolic imbalances seem to also cause an increase in the likelihood of tinnitus, so people with diabetes, thyroid problems, or hyperglycemia may experience tinnitus.
From a subjective tinnitus perspective, tinnitus without hearing loss might be caused by sinus issues. A tube that runs between the middle of each ear and the sinus cavity is usually used to regulate pressure in the ear. However, if this tube becomes congested or sinuses begin to drain, it can push and pull air from the middle ear. The result of this is the ear drum flexing and sending a signal to the brain that there was a sound vibration where one didn’t really exist. This may be experienced as a wind or roaring noise.
Vascular issues and heightened awareness of blood flow can also fall into the subjective tinnitus category. Although it is sometimes objective, this type of tinnitus without hearing loss may not be perceivable to another person. This is especially true if the increased awareness of blood circulation (or pulse) is the result of an anxiety or stress-related root problem.
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