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Is the ringing in my ears a symptom of tinnitus?

We often refer to tinnitus as a ringing in the ears, but sufferers actually list a variety of sounds, including buzzing, hissing, static, crickets, screeching, whooshing, roaring, pulsing, ocean waves, dial tones, and even music when they describe the sound they hear.

Whatever the perception of the sound is, permanent tinnitus is a chronic condition with no cure. If you are experiencing a constant noise in your head, you may have tinnitus.

Different Causes Can Lead to Different Symptoms

There are two main categories of tinnitus: subjective and objective. With subjective tinnitus, the sound is only perceived by the sufferer and is caused by a malfunction in the auditory system. This is by far the more common form of tinnitus. Objective tinnitus, on the other hand, is caused by a physical issue, such as blood flow or a musculoskeletal problem, and can be heard by others.

Patients’ perception of the noises they hear can be divided into three types:

  • Tonal tinnitus. Usually associated with subjective tinnitus, the sufferer hears a near-continuous sound with well-defined frequencies. The volume of the sound can fluctuate. This form is usually incurable, but therapies are available to alleviate the symptoms.
  • Pulsatile tinnitus. Sufferers of this form report a pulsing sound that is often in rhythm with their heartbeat. Pulsatile tinnitus often has an objective cause and stops when the underlying condition is treated.
  • Musical tinnitus. Although very rare, sufferers of musical tinnitus report hearing the same tune in their heads on a constant loop. It sometimes sounds to sufferers like singing.

Tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be temporary. If the tinnitus is caused by an ear wax blockage, nasal and sinus stuffiness caused by a cold, or as a side effect of a medication, the symptoms will go away when the medical cause is alleviated.

Identifying the Sound You Hear

The American Tinnitus Association has an audio library of common tinnitus sounds. Listening to these samples can help a sufferer identify his type of tinnitus and can also allow family and friends to understand what the sufferer is experiencing. Included in the library are solid tones at two different frequencies and the following sounds, which are all commonly reported by sufferers:

  • Tea kettle
  • Cicada
  • Static
  • Screeching
  • Electric
  • Roaring

Getting Help for Your Symptoms

If you are suffering from any of these noises in your ears, the hearing care professionals at Professional Hearing Care Centers can diagnose and offer therapies and treatments to ease your suffering. Call our toll free number now to schedule a free hearing evaluation: 888-906-4199.