Why do ears ring

Our ears ring when the hair cells inside our ears are stimulated beyond the tolerance level by loud noise. This is known as tinnitus and it can hurt the ear or even lessen the ear’s hearing capabilities if exposed to loud noise over a long period of time. To understand why our ears ring and how that affects our audibility, we need to understand the whole mechanism of hearing first. The sound waves in the air, hit our ear drums and they start to vibrate. The vibrations then reach the hair cells in the cochlea through the inner ear fluid. The stereocilia respond to the pressure exerted onto them by the fluid by bending and converting the waves into electronic signals that are sent to the brain through the auditory nerve. These electronic signals sent to the brain by the hair cells are what we hear. What happens when you are exposed to a very harsh, high pitched or loud noise is that the stereocilia undergoes a series of irregular and rough movements. This hampers the proper functioning of these tiny structures in our ears and they end up sending false electronic signals to our brain and thus we hear ringing, humming or even low roaring sounds without an actual source.

It might come as a surprise to many, but rock concerts with heavy metal music can actually break of the tips of the stereocilia. Firecrackers, gunfire and thunder can also have the same effect. If the tips are broken off, then get ready to experience tinnitus for the next twenty four hours at least because that is roughly the amount of time that it takes for the tips to grow back. If one keeps exposing one’s ears to such loud sounds at a stretch over a long period of time, then it is possible for the person to develop permanent hearing problems. Apart from loud sounds, allergies, infections, fluctuating blood pressure or even dirty ear canals can also cause tinnitus. Although rare, but certain medicines and food items are known to cause tinnitus in the ears. A common ringing sensation within the ears usually go away in a day or two, but if it does not, then the cause may be serious enough for you to take professional medical advice.