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What causes a humming sound in the ear?

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Certain conditions, such as ear infections, eardrum ruptures, circulatory problems, neurological disorders and aging, can cause patients to hear unusual sounds within the ears, states WebMD. These symptoms describe tinnitus, which occurs when patients hear sounds that do not originate from their environment. Pulsatile tinnitus describes sounds resulting from movement of muscles around the ear, circulation or changes in the ear canal. Nonpulsatile tinnitus results from nerve issues within the ear.

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Tinnitus affects around 20 percent of people, according to Mayo Clinic. While not curable by itself, treating the underlying cause of tinnitus can reduce its effects. Other types of treatment make tinnitus less noticeable. Tinnitus varies in its pitch and volume from patient to patient and can also persist indefinitely or come and go over time. It is best to seek a doctor if tinnitus develops following an upper respiratory infection or fails to improve after a week. Immediate care is necessary for cases that appear without warning or apparent cause and those accompanied by hearing loss or dizziness.

Risk factors for tinnitus include increased durations of high noise exposure, aging, smoking and cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure, reports Mayo Clinic. Sex is also a risk factor, as men are more likely to develop tinnitus than women.

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