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A weekly show where we endeavor to answer one of your big questions. This week, Emma R. asks, "Why do I get that weird ringing noise in my ears?"
Tinnitus Sounds:

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Craig: Hi, I'm Craig. [Screaming.] WHAT? DID YOU SAY SOMETHING? I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER THE RINGING IN MY EARS! AM I TALKING TOO LOUD? I'M PROBABLY TALKING TOO LOUD. And this is Mental Floss on Youtube. Today I'm going to answer Emma R's big question, "Why do I get that weird ringing noise in my ears?"

Okay, serious times. Before I answer this, I want to note that if this is a consistent problem for you, you should see a doctor, especially if you have other symptoms. This could be signs of Meniere's disease or another serious disorder. Well, if you're talking about run of the mill, once in a while, good old fashion ear ringing, this is the video for you. Let's get started. Maybe turn it down a little bit if it's too loud.

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Craig: So that ringing noise in your ear has a name, subjective tinnitus. Tinnitus refers to the noise, it's usually a ringing noise like Emma experiences but it can also be a roar, click, hiss or another noise, maybe a BLEH! Probably not, but maybe. 

This case probably qualifies as "subjective" as only Emma can hear it, I'm guessing. Objective tinnitus is a noise coming from your ear that other people can also hear. 95% of tinnitus cases are subjective tinnitus, and it's very common. According to the American Tinnitus Association, 50 million people in the US have experienced subjective tinnitus. 

50 million! If you're one of those magical people who haven't experienced it, there's a link in the dooblydoo to a website that lets you hear some different tinnitus sounds. A number of things can cause subjective tinnitus, I'm going to go through a few common ones but as I mentioned, you might want to give your doctor a ring. You get it, a ring? Ring.

I don't want to worry you though, so I will tell you that tinnitus can be caused by something as simple as wax in your ear. Another cause of tinnitus is loud noises, so if you've been exposed to loud noises consistently, that can damage your cilia, which are the cells in your inner ear. 

[Singing] Wooah, ciliaaaa. You're ringing my ears.

Was that too loud? Sorry.

It's important to not damage these, as they don't regenerate. Be sure to protect your ears, especially if your lifestyle or job involves repeated exposure to noises louder than 85 decibels. 

Some medications give people tinnitus, including antibiotics like aminoglycosides, which is used to treat diseases like tuberculosis. Loop diuretics, which treat for things like edema and hypertension, also have been known to cause tinnitus. I have a theory- maybe your ears just like you and want to put a ring on you.

Some of the other things that cause tinnitus are head trauma, anemia, cardiovascular disease and vitamin B12 deficiency. Basically, what you should take from this is that tinnitus isn't a disease, it's a symptom of something else. I'm sorry I couldn't address the specific reason why you, Emma, have ringing in your ears, but hopefully now you can understand why that is the case. 

Thanks for watching Mental Floss on Youtube, which is made with the help of all these lovely tinnituses. If you have a big question of your own that you'd like answered, leave it below in the comments. Hope to hear from you next week. 

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