There will be very few people who will go through life without at some time being aware of loud ringing in the ears. Exposure to excessively loud music such as might be heard at a discotheque, a club or a live concert will invariably leave ringing ears which may take several hours to dissipate.
This same ear ringing can also commonly be the result of a loud bang or sudden intense noise. Similarly, long periods exposed to the loud sounds of working machinery in the workplace where no ear protection is worn can leave people with ringing ears.
Most of the time the ringing ears gradually subside. However, continuous or repeated exposure to any loud noise will undoubtedly damage the ears and result in some permanent hearing loss and potentially a permanence of that ringing in the ears.
This condition where people experience permanent ear ringing known as tinnitus has in the past been thought of as only an age-related problem affecting people of perhaps 55 and above.
The symptoms of tinnitus, the ringing in the ears, were reported to be mainly suffered by older manual workers. That was hardly surprising as so many of them were employed in manufacturing industries where they spent their entire working lives surrounded by the incessant loud noises associated with factory production.
The age range of people affected with ringing ears has dropped considerably now though. This has been brought about as a result of the constant noise imposed on us in our everyday lives and over which we have little or no control such as traffic and aircraft noise.
Particularly amongst the younger element music is now listened to at excessive volume at home, in the car, and even pumped straight into their ears through headphones and earphones connected to mobile music devices.
It has to be noted that the impact of external noise isn’t the only cause of tinnitus although it is the most common. Ringing in the ear can also be a symptom of an underlying health problem. This can range from something as innocuous as a build-up of wax in the ear to problems affecting the head and neck as a result of whiplash injuries.
Many prescription drugs have side effects that commonly initiate symptoms of tinnitus and if ear ringing is noted as being coincident with starting any drug course it is worth referring back to the prescribing doctor.
Tinnitus then is a very common condition and it is suffered across all ages in our society. In most cases, the ringing ears only cause a mild annoyance. Not so for everyone though and the sounds can become distracting enough to interfere with sleep and cause or exacerbate hearing problems.