Tinnitus: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a medical term to describe noises that people can hear in one ear, both ears or in the head such as ringing, buzzing or whistling. The sounds heard can vary from person to person, but the common link is that they do not have an external source. Tinnitus involves the annoying sensation of hearing sound when no external sound is present.
Subjective tinnitus- sounds can only be heard by you. It’s the most common type of tinnitus and is usually linked to problems affecting your hearing (auditory) system.
Objective tinnitus – sounds can be heard by you or your GP when he or she listens through a stethoscope placed near your ear. This type of tinnitus is less common

Recovery Time

It lasts for only weeks or months. In some individuals it may last for years. 


Diagnosis is done by
  • Hearing (audiological) exam
  • Movement
  • Imaging tests
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • (CT) scan   

FAQs prepared by doctor

Q1. What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is defined as the perception of a sound in one or both ears when there is no external source of sound in the environment.

Q2.  What are the kinds of sounds heard? Is this heard only by the patient or others too?
It may have a buzzing, roaring, or ringing quality and may be pulsatile (synchronous with the heartbeat). The sound may range from low to high pitch. Subjective tinnitus is a condition when patient hears the sound while objective tinnitus when the doctors hear the sound keeping stethoscope near the ear.

Q3.  Does tinnitus mean that one is going deaf?
No. Tinnitus is often an indication that there has been some kind of damage to the auditory system, but it does not mean the patient will become deaf. Tinnitus does not cause hearing loss, and hearing loss does not cause tinnitus, although the two often exist together.

Q4.  What shall one do when suffering from tinnitus?
There are some simple things you can try yourself that may help manage your symptoms of tinnitus. These include taking regular exercise and making time to relax
Keeping a low level of background sound, such as an opened window or leaving the radio on.

Q5.  When shall one consult a doctor?
One should meet physician immediately if tinnitus one-sided and causing hearing loss suggesting acoustic neuroma. If this is interfering with everyday life, for example, making it difficult for you to sleep or its pulsating and getting louder or its associated with hearing loss or dizziness.

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