If you hear buzzing, hissing, roaring or ringing in your ears it could be tinnitus. Find out what the ringing could mean.

ringing ears illustration PHOTO CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK


Why are your ears ringing?

“Your ears are telling you something when they’re ringing,” says Sean Kinden, a clinical audiologist in Gander, Newfoundland. “It’s their way of letting us know that something is not working quite the way it should be.”

Over 360,000 Canadians have ringing ears, a condition known as tinnitus. It can affect adults young or old, it can be constant or intermittent, it can be extremely bothersome or a light background noise. And tinnitus can have many causes. But you shouldn’t go more than two weeks without getting it checked out by a doctor, says Kinden. Here’s what your ears may be trying to tell you.

woman with head phones_ ringing ears PHOTO CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

“Turn that noise down!”

Exposure to loud sound is the most common cause of tinnitus. People who work with noisy equipment like chainsaws, or who habitually play extra-loud music, are putting themselves at high risk for ringing. But you can take steps to protect yourself from damage. “If you’re out jogging, set your music volume at half,” says Kinden, “and wear hearing protection, even when mowing the lawn.”

woman listening_ ringing ears  PHOTO CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK


“Time for a cleaning.”

Very often, a buildup of natural ear wax (called cerumen) can block your ears and make you hear sounds that aren’t there. “Just have the wax removed by a physician,” says Kinden. “Once it comes out, the ringing is gone.”

“You need to examine your noggin’!”

Bumped your head lately? Ringing in the ears is one of the symptoms of concussion, especially if it’s one-sided. Other signs of concussion include headache, dizziness and nausea. Always wear head protection when playing sports like hockey or working in a high-risk job like construction.

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