Tinnitus is the perception of sound when there is no actual noise. It may be a buzzing, hissing, whistling, swooshing, and clicking noise. Pulsatile tinnitus is caused by the flow of blood. It happens with each heartbeat. Tinnitus can be a temporary or long-term problem.
Sound waves cause vibration or pressure on small structures in the ear. This creates signals that are sent to the brain. Damage to this system may cause signals when sound is not present. It may be caused by one or more of the following:
Different health problems can cause or worsen tinnitus. An exact cause may not be found.
Factors that may increase your chances of tinnitus:
Tinnitus may have:
Hearing loss or vertigo may also be present.
Call your doctor if you have tinnitus, especially if it:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will ask about:
In addition to hearing the test may include:
When possible, the cause will be treated. This may stop tinnitus.
Other treatment will help to get rid of or reduce bothersome sensations. Steps may include:
Tricyclic antidepressants may help to treat severe tinnitus. It may ease your symptoms.
Steps that may help to ease noise include:
Avoid anything that makes tinnitus sensations worse such as:
To help reduce your chances of tinnitus:
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
American Tinnitus Association
Canadian Hearing Society
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
Tinnitus. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/?q=node/1324. Accessed December 17, 2019.
Tinnitus. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Tinnitus. Accessed December 17, 2019.
Tinnitus. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116486/Tinnitus. Updated July 18, 2019. Accessed December 17, 2019.
Understanding the facts. American Tinnitus Association website. Available at: https://www.ata.org/understanding-facts. Accessed December 17, 2019.
Last reviewed December 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Nicole Meregian, PA Last Updated: 6/12/2020