What causes a ringing sensation in the ear?

I went swimming recently, but ever since I have been experiencing a ringing sensation in one of my ears. Is this normal or I should visit a medical expert for assessment?

Dear Doctor,
I went swimming recently, but ever since I have been experiencing a ringing sensation in one of my ears. Is this normal or I should visit a medical expert for assessment?

Fred

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Dear Fred,

You have developed tinnitus, which is a buzzing, rushing or clicking sound heard, when no external sound is present. It can be intermittent or constantly present. It can be mild or so severe as to make it difficult for a person to carry out his daily activities. There may be associated sensation of giddiness, nausea with or without vomiting It occurs due to water entering and remaining inside the ears during swimming causing infection and inflammation. This may cause damage to the cells lining the inner ear. Tiny hair that vibrate and tell the brain about the sound heard , are damaged and send false information to the brain. This makes a person perceive sounds, when none are present. Many swimmers develop tinnitus, which most commonly occurs due to ear infections. They develop ear infections, sometimes or other, hence are more prone to develop tinnitus. There may be associated ear pan, sense of blockade, ear discharge, reduced hearing, one or more of these symptoms or only tinnitus may be present.

Prevention of tinnitus lies in preventing water from entering the ears and keeping them dry. This can be done, by keeping the head above surface of water or using ear plugs while swimming. Also one should avoid swimming in polluted water. Removing excess of water, by tilting the head to either sides, using a towel to pat dry the ears, after swimming is also useful.

Treatment consists of use of antibiotics as ear drops or pills and anti inflammatory drugs to treat the ongoing infection and inflammation of the ear. Infection is always treatable.

Drugs are available to provide palliative relief in tinnitus.

 is a specialist in internal medicine at Ruhengeri Hospital

 

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