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Tinnitus – Symptoms, Causes & Management

Tinnitus is the perception of noise in the ears or head when no external noise is present.  It is often pronounced two ways and either can be correct:  Ti-NIGHT-us or TINN-a-tus.  Although it is often referred to simply as “ringing in the ears,” it can have multiple presentations depending on the person.  Here are some other ways that tinnitus has been described:

  • Whistling
  • Crackling
  • Popping
  • Humming
  • Roaring
  • Buzzing
  • Hissing
  • Swooshing
  • Clicking
  • Chirping











  • Metabolic Disorders
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Blood vessel disorders
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Vestibular disorders
  • Thyroid problems
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Blood vessel disorders
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Vestibular disorders
  • Thyroid problems

What testing is involved to evaluate tinnitus?

Trained audiologists can evaluate patients suffering from tinnitus with the following clinical tools:

Comprehensive audiological evaluation:

  • Speech recognition test
  • Pure tone audiogram
  • Tympanogram
  • Acoustic reflex testing
  • Otoacoustic emissions testing
  • Tinnitus sound matching
  • Minimum masking level
  • Loudness discomfort level
Other evaluations exist for the subjective aspects of tinnitus a patient is experiencing.

Who is most likely to be affected by tinnitus?

Nearly one in six Americans experience tinnitus, according
to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Different populations of people are more susceptible to acquire tinnitus including the following:

  • Males (more likely to be in loud professions and recreational activities)
  • Older generations (more likely to have age-related and noise-induced hearing loss)
  • Caucasians (no known reason)
  • Active military personnel and veterans
  • Musicians and music lovers
  • Motorsports and hunting enthusiasts
  • Patients with prior behavioral health issues (depression, anxiety, etc)

How does tinnitus impact patients every day?

Tinnitus varies so greatly between patients (and can even vary day by day for each individual).  Some describe it as ‘easily ignored’ and others as ‘completely debilitating’.  Other experiences that tinnitus can cause include:

  • Distress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Poor concentration
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Social isolation