Tinnitus, although often described as “ringing in the ears”, can also present as a buzzing, hissing, seashell sound, roaring, humming or pulsation. It might be constant or intermittent (off and on). It might be loud at times or barely noticeable at other times. Usually, tinnitus is most noticeable when the environment is quiet. Head noise or tinnitus may or may not be associated with hearing impairment, but most people with hearing loss (80%) have tinnitus as one symptom. Only about 5%-10% of people with tinnitus have normal hearing on an audiogram.

Most people who experience tinnitus are not bothered greatly by it. But about 20% of people with tinnitus are severely disturbed by it.

In many cases, the cause of tinnitus is considered idiopathic (no known cause). There are two forms of tinnitus: objective and subjective. The most common form of tinnitus is subjective tinnitus. This means that you hear the sound but others cannot. Tinnitus that can be heard by an observer is called objective tinnitus.

Tinnitus is a symptom, not a disease and there’s not one specific treatment to cure it. If you have tinnitus, it’s important to see an otologist (ear doctor) for a complete evaluation to determine the cause of the tinnitus. This exam will help identify any underlying physical problems that might be treatable either medically or surgically.

At House Clinic, we recommend several treatment options for tinnitus. Immediate treatment can be performed, for example, to remove impacted earwax or drain fluid from the middle ear, which may cure the tinnitus. But in most other cases, the goal of treatment is to reduce your perception of the tinnitus and make it bother you less. These treatment options include hearing aids, tinnitus maskers, medications, relaxations techniques, tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), and cognitive-behavioral therapy.