Tinnitus can develop gradually or appear seemingly out of nowhere. The most common cause is sensorineural hearing loss, due either to aging or exposure to loud noises. Other potential causes of tinnitus include:
Ototoxic substances, including alcohol, caffeine and many medicines including certain anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, antidepressants, cancer treatments, as well as medication containing salicylates, such as Ibuprofen and Pepto-Bismol (always consult with a medical professional prior to stopping any medication due to tinnitus).
Earwax buildup, a perforated eardrum or something touching the eardrum.
Infection, allergies, otosclerosis or tumors in the middle ear.
Trauma to the head or neck, neck misalignment and TMJ disorders.
Systemic conditions such as diabetes, vascular disorders, thyroid dysfunction or low blood pressure.
Many people hear ringing in their ears immediately following a concert, but this is typically a temporary effect and distinct from chronic tinnitus. However, ringing in the ears is a good reminder to always wear proper ear protection, as frequent exposure to excessively loud sound—including workplace noise, high-intensity music, power equipment or firearms—can lead to hearing loss.
Always consult a medical professional to determine whether your tinnitus is an indicator of a more serious health condition.