Tinnitus Signs and Symptoms – What to Look For

Tinnitus is defined by The American Tinnitus Association as the condition in which a person hears sounds that most often no one else can hear. Tinnitus is more common in men than women, and tends to be age-related, appearing most commonly after the age of 50. It affects an estimated 50 million Americans, and for unknown reasons, it also seems to affect twice as many people in the South as in other areas of the country.

A range of sounds are experienced by tinnitus suffers and there are different types of tinnitus associated with these sounds.Subjective tinnitus is the most common, and is defined as the person hearing sounds that no one else can hear; objective tinnitus is much more rare, and is indicated when a doctor or audiologist can also detect these sounds. Less frequent types of tinnitus include hearing low-frequency noises (which are often mistakenly attributed to external sources rather than tinnitus), musical hallucinations (in which the person hears what appears to be music that no one else can hear), and pulsatile tinnitus (often heard as rhythmic beats that seem to be in time with one’s pulse).

If there is a single most common symptom of tinnitus, it is hearing a persistent, high-pitched ringing noise, in one ear or in both ears. This symptom may also be experienced as a buzzing, hissing, roaring, whistling, or clicking sound, one that can change in both pitch (frequency) and amplitude (loudness). Mild tinnitus can be masked by every day sounds and while it may appear tinnitus comes and goes for some sufferers it’s important to know that the condition may only be heard in less noisy environments. 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. For many people with mild tinnitus it is a passing irritation that comes and goes. But for those experiencing more severe symptoms it can be a source of exhaustion, depression, stress, and anxiety. Others have said that they have difficulty sleeping or concentrating as a result of the tinnitus.

Our hearing specialists are here to diagnose and design a treatment plan for those suffering from tinnitus. This begins with an easy and painless hearing test and examination. 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.

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