What Is Causing My Ears to Ring?

Ear ringing is a condition that is perceived only by the person experiencing it. Some people may hear high-pitched sounds, others may hear a clicking, while others may experience something totally different. When someone complains of ringing, buzzing, or clicking in their ears it is called tinnitus.

Ringing in your ears has many causes. If you've just attended a concert and you're wondering why your ears are ringing, you'll be happy to know that the ringing will likely go away in a day or two.

The bad news is you likely suffered some mild hearing loss from being exposed to loud noise over a significant period of time. Loud noise is just one cause of ear ringing (more on this below), other causes include the following.

Tinnitus Causes
Verywell / Gary Ferster

Too Much Ear Wax

Believe it or not, something as simple as too much ear wax can cause your ears to ring. This is due to blockage of the ear canal. You should use extreme caution when trying to remove the ear wax yourself. Seeking professional help from your care provider is the safest option.

If you try to remove the ear wax yourself, you should avoid ear candling. Over-the-counter ear wax removal aids should not be used by anyone who has had surgically placed ventilation tubes in their ears or who might have a ruptured eardrum.

Middle Ear Infections

Middle ear infections, also called otitis media, occur when germs become trapped inside the auditory tube, the small tube that runs from the middle ear to the back of the throat. This usually happens because the auditory tube becomes clogged or obstructed, often by mucous.

Middle ear infections are more common in children than adults due to the size and shape of a child's auditory tube, but ear infections in adults do occur. If the ringing in your ears is being caused by a middle ear infection you will likely have other symptoms as well and the ringing will go away when the infection clears up.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Ear pain
  • Hearing loss
  • Vertigo

Hearing Loss

The older you get the more hearing you lose and the more likely you are to experience ringing in your ears. Of course, getting older isn't the only cause of hearing loss. Exposure to loud noises over a prolonged period of time is a big culprit of hearing loss and can result in tinnitus.

Changes in Blood Flow

Changes in blood flow, such as high blood pressure or anemia, can cause ear ringing. Sometimes changes in blood flow can cause a type of ear ringing called pulsatile tinnitus, which has the sensation of your heart beating in your ears. Less commonly, pulsatile tinnitus can also be caused by tumors in or around the ear.

Meniere's Disease

Meniere's disease is a poorly understood condition that usually affects only one ear. In addition to tinnitus, it causes vertigo (severe dizziness and poor balance), headaches, hearing loss, nausea, and vomiting.

The cause of Meniere's disease is unknown but there may be a genetic component and many people with Meniere's disease have a history of migraine headaches.


Certain medications can cause ringing in your ears. Some medications are actually harmful to your ears and are called ototoxic. Ototoxic medications can damage your inner ear and cause hearing loss.

A common medication that can cause this is aspirin (usually when taken in high doses or for a long time). If you experience ringing in your ears and you have been taking aspirin you should stop immediately.

Other medications that are ototoxic include certain antibiotics like gentamicin, but the list of ototoxic medications is long. If you have recently started a new medication and start to experience tinnitus you should talk to your healthcare provider.

Some medications are not ototoxic but can cause tinnitus by raising your blood pressure. An example of this includes taking a nasal decongestant like Sudafed (pseudoephedrine), which has also been known to cause tinnitus.

Exposure to Loud Noise

Ear ringing that appears after you've attended a concert or been to a shooting range can be pretty easy to pinpoint, but you may be surprised to know that prolonged exposure to noises even 80 decibels or more can cause ear ringing and subsequent hearing loss.

Even listening to your earbuds with the volume too high can damage your hearing. Other noises that are louder than 80 decibels include the kitchen blender, a motorcycle engine, a lawnmower, chain saws, hand drills, blow dryers, and shouting.

Loud noises damage the tiny hair cells in the cochlea that are essential for hearing. Once damaged, unfortunately, these cells never recover.

The only good news? Noise-induced hearing loss is very preventable and ear ringing is one of the first symptoms of hearing loss. To prevent hearing loss, turn down the volume, wear earplugs, and limit your exposure to loud noise.

Other Causes of Ear Ringing

You may also experience ear ringing in these conditions:

  • Stress
  • Migraine headaches
  • Head injuries
  • Ruptured eardrum
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Otosclerosis
  • Smoking
  • Labyrinthitis
6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Tinnitus.

  2. Miyamoto RT. Otitis media (acute). Merck Manual Professional Version.

  3. National Institute on Aging. Hearing loss: A common problem for older adults.

  4. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Tinnitus.

  5. American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. Tinnitus.

  6. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Ménière's disease.

By Kristin Hayes, RN
Kristin Hayes, RN, is a registered nurse specializing in ear, nose, and throat disorders for both adults and children.