What is Tinnitus?

Woman holding her ears because of tinnitus

Tinnitus is the medical term for the sensation of hearing sound in one or both of your ears when no external sound is present. The sound is most often described as ringing, but it has also been described as hissing, buzzing, whistling, clicking, or swooshing. 

What Causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is not actually a disease—it is a symptom of an underlying health condition and can manifest as acute or chronic. In some cases, resolving the cause can reduce the perception of tinnitus.

Common Causes of Tinnitus

  • Hearing loss. Continued exposure to loud noises or one traumatic exposure that damages the tiny hairs in your ear can cause tinnitus. Age-related hearing loss can also cause tinnitus.
  • Middle ear blockages. Ear infections, excessive ear wax, dirt, or other foreign materials may change the pressure in your ear and cause tinnitus.
  • Head and neck trauma. People with head and neck injuries that affect the nerves, circulatory system, and muscles can also experience tinnitus. 
  • Medications. Tinnitus may be a side effect of medications. Ototoxic medications like Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antibiotics, cancer drugs, diuretics, and antidepressants have been linked to perceived tinnitus.
  • Chronic health conditions. Tinnitus can be a symptom of health conditions like cardiovascular disease, hypertension, Ménière’s disease, Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, and autoimmune disorders.

Symptoms of Tinnitus

The symptoms of tinnitus are largely subjective since the person experiencing it is usually the only person who can hear it. The sound can be described differently, but some of the most common descriptions include ringing, static, buzzing, roaring, humming, and screeching.

According to the American Tinnitus Association, there are three ways to describe tinnitus sounds:

  • Tonal: near-continuous perception of overlapping sounds
  • Pulsatile: perceived pulsing sounds that are often synchronized with a person’s heartbeat
  • Musical: while extremely rare, these are perceived sounds of music or singing

Are you experiencing tinnitus symptoms?

There are multiple ways to potentially alleviate or manage tinnitus. Hearing aids may help by masking the sound of tinnitus, especially for those who have tinnitus in the same frequency range as their hearing loss.

If you are suffering from tinnitus, your first step should be visiting a hearing healthcare professional for a clinical evaluation. Get started now by contacting Amdahl Hearing for a test.

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.