» Tinnitus


What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the perception of sound in one or both ears when there is no external sound source that can be heard by others. Tinnitus is a common condition, affecting 15% to 20% of people and is more common in older adults. Tinnitus is not a disease but can be a symptom of an underlying health condition.

Tinnitus Symptoms

Tinnitus can be described in many ways such as a ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking, whistling, humming, whooshing, or pulsatile sound. Tinnitus can vary in pitch and in loudness and may be heard in one or both ears. It may be constant, occasional, or rare in occurrence. In some cases, tinnitus can be so loud it interferes with daily activities.

When To See an Audiologist

Individuals experiencing tinnitus should have their hearing tested by a registered audiologist to rule out an underlying hearing loss or blockage in the ear canal and/or middle ear.

Have your hearing tested as soon as possible if you are experiencing hearing loss and/or vertigo/dizziness with your tinnitus.


Tinnitus Causes & Risk Factors

Several heath conditions can cause or worsen tinnitus. Research suggests that the most chronic forms of tinnitus are caused by damage to hair cells in the inner ear. In many cases, an exact cause is never found.

Causes of Tinnitus

Common Causes

  • Hearing Loss. When hair cells inside the inner ear are damaged, they can erroneously send electrical impulses to your brain which is heard as a ringing or buzzing. Individuals with noise-induced hearing loss and hearing loss due to Meniere’s Disease often experience tinnitus.
  • Outer and/or middle ear pathology. Wax buildup, ear infections, eustachian tube dysfunction, and otosclerosis can impact ear pressure and function causing tinnitus.
  • Head or neck trauma. Head or neck trauma such as concussion and whiplash can affect any part of the auditory system and may cause tinnitus in one or both ears.
  • Medications. Several medications can cause or worsen tinnitus. Medications known to cause tinnitus include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), certain antibiotics, cancer drugs, diuretics, antimalarial drugs, and antidepressants.

Less Common Causes

  • Chronic diseases and conditions. Conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, thyroid problems, autoimmune disorders, and vascular disorders can cause tinnitus.
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. The temporomandibular joint, where the jaw hinges, is located on the side of the head in front of each ear. Problems with this joint can cause tinnitus.
  • Acoustic neuroma or other tumors of the head and neck. An acoustic neuroma is a benign (non-cancerous) tumor that develops on the cranial nerve responsible for hearing and balance that connects your inner ear to your brain. These and other types of head and neck tumors can cause tinnitus.

Tinnitus Complications

Tinnitus affects everyone differently, but it can greatly impact one’s quality of life. Individuals dealing with pre-existing anxiety and depression are more likely to be impacted by tinnitus.

Individuals with tinnitus may experience the following: difficulty hearing conversation over the tinnitus, trouble concentrating, fatigue, stress, memory problems, headaches, depression, anxiety and irritability.

Tinnitus Treatment & Prevention

Currently, there is no cure for tinnitus, however, it can be successfully managed through education, counseling, and the use of ear-level or tabletop masking devices.

Counseling and Education

Our registered audiologists work with clients to demystify tinnitus. Often counseling clients on the probable cause and providing tinnitus management and coping strategies can reduce tinnitus associated stress and anxiety.

Hearing Aids

In some cases, clients may need more than counseling to help manage their bothersome tinnitus. In these cases, our audiologists may prescribe hearing aids as an ear-level masking device. Hearing aids are very effective in relieving tinnitus even for clients with normal hearing. Hearing aids work to manage tinnitus by turning up external sounds, making it difficult to consciously perceive the tinnitus. This helps the client’s brain focus on external ambient sounds in the environment rather than their tinnitus.

Sound Generators

A sound generator is a device that provides sound therapy such as white noise or other relaxing sounds. These devices are typically placed on a table and can be used to help mask bothersome tinnitus during sleep or in quiet environments. There are also several affordable tinnitus masking apps available through smartphone app stores.


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