The American Tinnitus Association defines the condition (which can be pronounced either tin-NYE-tus or TIN-ni-tus) as hearing sounds that no one else can hear. Experienced generally more often by men over the age of 50, tinnitus appears to be age-related. Tinnitus inexplicably affects more Americans in the South than other parts of the country, and an estimated 50 million Americans currently have the condition.
There are several types of tinnitus, and there are many different sounds that those with the condition tend to hear. Most people with the condition hear sounds that no one else can hear; this type is referred to as Subjective tinnitus. Incredibly, there are circumstances in which a doctor or audiologist can detect these sounds upon examination, this is called Objective tinnitus. Beyond these two common forms of tinnitus there are several other less common forms. These include musical hallucinations (a person hears music that is not playing), pulsatile tinnitus where the rhythmic beats of the heart are heard, and low-frequency sounds that are mistaken for real noises in the environment.
The most common symptom of tinnitus is a persistent, almost-always present, high-pitched ringing noise in one or both ears. Though this is the most commonly heard sound others hear buzzing, clicking, whistling, roaring and hissing that can increase and decrease in pitch and volume. If you have mild tinnitus, you might tend to notice it only in quiet environments, because the ambient sounds of noisy environments can mask the buzzing or ringing sounds. The position of the head can also make a difference; some tinnitus sufferers have reported symptoms intensify while lying down versus sitting or standing up. Although for most people tinnitus is more a nuisance than anything else, for some it has severe repercussions: they may suffer increased levels of stress, fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Others have said that they have difficulty sleeping or concentrating as a result of the tinnitus.
Our specialists can quickly diagnose tinnitus by performing a simple, painless examination and hearing test. Scheduling an appointment is highly recommended, because sometimes tinnitus can be an indicator of serious disease conditions such as arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, and Meniere’s disease, or indicate more serious forms of hearing loss.