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Tinnitus, sometimes called "ringing ears" because sufferers hear constant or recurring abnormal noises, is a relatively common condition that affects about one in five people between the ages of 55 and 65. One possible tinnitus symptom is tinnitus headache. This is usually a temporal headache, meaning it occurs in the temporal area of the skull, located around the temples. The bones in this area cover the middle ear and inner ear where the body's hearing organs are located. A tinnitus headache is ultimately caused by tinnitus, and if that underlying condition is cured, the headaches will usually also disappear.
There are many different conditions that can cause both tinnitus and the related headache. Some are minor while others can be life-threatening. Common causes of tinnitus are exposure to loud noises, excessive earwax buildup or some other obstruction in the ear canal, ear infection or ear inflammation causing swelling or fluid accumulation in the middle ear, and otosclerosis, a disorder affecting the bones of the middle ear. There is a wide variety of other possible causes too, including head injuries, brain tumors, anemia, hypertension, depression and anxiety.
There are also factors that can make a tinnitus sufferer more likely to experience a tinnitus headache. Stress and insomnia are commonly associated with the development of these headaches, and these factors are often thought to be a result of the underlying tinnitus. A much more serious condition that can cause tinnitus headaches is a sub-arachnoid hemorrhage, a bleeding inside the brain, such as a ruptured aneurysm. This is a rare but extremely serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Various pharmaceutical drugs, like certain antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs, can also contribute to tinnitus and a headache.
Temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMJD, TMD or TMJ, is another possible cause of both tinnitus and tinnitus headache. This is an inflammation of the joint connecting the lower jaw to the skull. The condition causes pain in the joint and can affect the nerves and bones in the surrounding area, as well as the teeth and the hearing organs. Neck and shoulder pain is commonly associated with both this disorder and tinnitus headache.