Woman grimacing with hand on the left side of her head suffering from tinnitus

Are you experiencing ringing in your ears that’s driving you crazy? Learn whether your tinnitus is inherited or what the cause may be.

Tinnitus, what exactly is it?

Tinnitus is the term describing a person’s perception of a ringing, droning, or buzzing in the ear with no external stimulus present to explain this sensation. The term tinnitus translates to “ringing like a bell.”

How will my everyday living be impacted by tinnitus?

Tinnitus can disrupt personal connections in several frustrating ways. It’s usually a sign that you have damaged hearing or some underlying health condition and not a disease in and of itself. Your ability to stay focused can be significantly disrupted when you begin to hear tinnitus in one or both ears.

Regardless of how you’re experiencing tinnitus, it is always disruptive. Tinnitus can affect your sleep and even cause anxiety and depression.

What causes tinnitus?

Tinnitus can be constant or temporary. Lengthy exposure to loud sound, like a rock concert, is usually the cause of temporary tinnitus. Tinnitus has been documented to co-occur with a few different medical issues.

Here are a few situations that typically accompany tinnitus:

  • Head or neck injuries
  • Hearing impairment related to aging
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Inner ear cell damage and irritation of the delicate hairs used to conduct sound, causing random transmissions of sound to your brain
  • Buildup of excessive earwax
  • Meniere’s Disease
  • Bruxism, generally referred to as teeth grinding stemming from temporomandibular joint issues, or TMJ disorder
  • Several medications
  • Inner ear infections
  • A benign tumor, called acoustic neuroma, grows on cranial nerve
  • Injuries that affect nerves of the ear
  • The ear bone has undergone changes
  • Exposure to loud sound for extended time periods

Is it possible that my parents may have passed down the ringing in my ears?

In general, tinnitus isn’t an inherited condition. However, your genetics can play a role in this condition. For example, ear bone changes that can lead to tinnitus can be passed down. Abnormal bone growth can cause these changes and can be handed down through genetics. Here are a few other conditions you may have inherited that can result in tinnitus:

  • Predisposition to anxiety or depression
  • Certain diseases
  • Being prone to inner ear infections or wax build-up

The ringing in your ear isn’t directly inheritable, but you might have been genetically predisposed to the disorders that are breeding grounds for tinnitus.

If your family has a history of tinnitus, you should certainly come in for an evaluation.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.