There are two types of tinnitus: primary and secondary. When an underlying cause can’t be found, you have primary tinnitus. Secondary tinnitus is caused by an underlying problem. The most common causes include:

  • Wax buildup
  • Nerve conditions
  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Certain medications
  • Pressure on your eardrum
  • Structural abnormalities in the ear
  • Eustachian tube dysfunction
  • Exposure to loud noise

Exposure to loud sounds frequently leads to tinnitus. Heavy equipment, firearms, and long-term exposure to loud music are a few of the top culprits.

When you have long-term exposure, you can develop permanent damage and hearing loss. Short-term exposure to a loud sound often results in temporary tinnitus.

Less common causes of tinnitus include temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, Meniere’s disease, a benign tumor, or trauma. Some patients experience muscle spasms in their inner ear, a problem that leads to tinnitus, hearing loss, and a feeling of fullness in your ear.

In rare cases, tinnitus develops due to an underlying blood vessel disorder. A few examples include atherosclerosis in blood vessels in your ear or malformed capillaries.