What are the Common Signs of Tinnitus?

smiling couple gesturing towards their ears

Tinnitus occurs when a patient experiences noises in their ears that have no external source. Most describe it as a ringing sound, but it can also present as buzzing, whirring or rasping. Tinnitus tends to be most common among people who work in noisy environments, such as rock stars, DJs, airport workers and firefighters. However, it can occur in anyone, particularly those with hearing loss. 

There are two main types of tinnitus, and they can develop slowly or quickly. Objective tinnitus is a type of tinnitus that, in theory, hearing specialists could hear using audio equipment. Usually, this type occurs because of the rushing of blood close to the sound-sensing bio-machinery in the middle and inner ear. 

By contrast, hearing specialists cannot detect subjective tinnitus, even in principle. This version of the condition occurs when the brain creates its own sounds. In this post, we take a look at some of the common signs of tinnitus. If any of these apply to you, visit your hearing specialist. Treatments are available. 

You Hear Ringing in Both Ears

If you hear persistent or repetitive ringing, buzzing, whirring or rasping sounds in your ear, then it could be a sign of tinnitus. Most people experience these episodes sporadically throughout their lives but, for some, they continue for days or weeks at a time.

Pay careful attention to the nature of the unwanted sounds in your ear. If they pulse with your heartbeat, it could be a sign of objective tinnitus. Often, this is a sign of a cardiovascular issue. If, however, the heartbeat doesn’t make a difference, then it could be a sign of subjective tinnitus. 

If you have a low-pitched ringing, that may be a sign of Meniere’s disease and presage vertigo. If the noise is high-pitched, then it is more likely the result of aging, certain medications or long-term noise exposure. 

You Hear Music

Some people with tinnitus experience musical hallucinations. Here, the brain conjures up the music and creates its own subjective perception of it. Many people with this condition often find themselves convinced that they may hear a sound and go looking for the source.

Musical hallucinations that are short-lived and only arrive occasionally aren’t usually indicative of tinnitus. However, those that last longer may mean that you have the condition. 

You Can’t Hear as Well as Before

Lastly, if you find yourself constantly asking people to speak up, then it could be a sign of hearing loss, a major risk factor for tinnitus. When you can’t hear properly, stimulation of the auditory cortex reduces and the brain has a higher propensity to start generating its own sounds.

To prevent hearing loss-induced tinnitus from worsening over time, patients should wear hearing aids. These increase auditory stimulation and may diminish tinnitus symptoms, improving sleep and reducing unwanted sounds. They also offer masking features that can cover up the tinnitus sound.

If you have tinnitus that lasts for at least two weeks, go to your hearing specialist and get it checked out. Today, there are multiple treatments available to reduce symptoms and manage the condition.