What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a condition that is characterized by a ringing in the ear. It is a common problem as it affects about one in five people between the ages of 50 and 65. People often develop tinnitus as a result of an underlying condition such as hearing loss associated with age, an ear injury, or a circulatory system disorder.


There are two kinds of tinnitus: subjective tinnitus and objective tinnitus. Subjective tinnitus is the most common type of tinnitus. It is a type of tinnitus that only you can hear. It can be caused by ear problems in your outer, middle or inner ear. It also can be caused by problems with the auditory nerves or the auditory pathways which is the part of the brain that interprets nerve signals as sound. Objective tinnitus is a rare type of tinnitus. It is a type of tinnitus that a healthcare provider would be able to hear when doing a physical examination. This type of tinnitus may be caused by a blood vessel problem, an inner ear bone condition or muscle contractions.

The signs and symptoms of tinnitus usually include hearing an abnormal sensation of hearing sound when no external sound is present. The signs and symptoms of tinnitus include phantom-like noises in your ears such as ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking, and hissing. The noises heard with tinnitus may vary in pitch and sound like very low or very high. Some people may hear it in one ear while others may hear it in both ears. Some people may even experience sounds that are so loud that it disrupts with a person’s normal ability to concentrate or hear. People may experience tinnitus that is chronic, or they may experience tinnitus that comes and goes.

Tinnitus may be caused by a number of underlying conditions. Things that may cause tinnitus include age-related hearing loss, ear bone changes, exposure to loud noise, earwax blockage, head and neck injuries, an acoustic neuroma, or disorders of the temperomandibular joint. There are also blood vessel disorders that are associated with tinnitus such as head and neck tumors, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, turbulent blood flow, and malformation of the capillaries.

There are a number of risk factors that may increase your risk for developing tinnitus. The risk factors for tinnitus include:

·         Age: As we age, we experience a decrease in nerve fibers. This is often associated with tinnitus.

·         Gender: Men are more likely to develop tinnitus than women.

·         Heart problems: High blood pressure and atherosclerosis can increase your risk of tinnitus.

·         Smoking: Smokers have a higher risk of developing tinnitus.

·         Exposure to loud noises: Loud noises may damage your ear’s sensory cells, which may cause tinnitus.