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What are the Most Common Signs of Tinnitus?

a woman with tinnitus

Although tinnitus affects around 15-20% of people, it’s often misunderstood. Despite being a very common condition, people aren’t always aware of the symptoms it can cause. To ensure you recognize the symptoms, look at the most common signs of tinnitus now.

Noises in the ear

People often assume tinnitus means ringing in the ears and this is certainly a common symptom of the condition. However, tinnitus refers to any noise you can hear which doesn’t come from an external source.

When you experience tinnitus, you may be able to hear a range of different sounds, such as hissing, whooshing, buzzing, whistling, grinding, humming, clicking, roaring or hissing. In rare cases, people may even report hearing music or recognizable sounds, even though these aren’t coming from an external source.

Hearing loss

Although tinnitus can occur in isolation, it often accompanies hearing loss. If your hearing function is impaired, it’s not unusual to experience the symptoms of tinnitus. Many people believe this occurs because your auditory system and brain are trying to pick up on sounds it’s unable to process. As a result, it creates the whooshing, ringing, clicking, humming or hissing sounds which characterize tinnitus. 

As hearing loss often occurs gradually, you may not notice that you’re unable to hear very high or low-pitched sounds. However, the symptoms of tinnitus are generally far more noticeable and may alert you to possible hearing loss.

When you consult a hearing specialist, they will be able to assess your symptoms and confirm whether they are caused by tinnitus. In addition to this, a hearing health professional can determine whether your symptoms are associated with hearing loss. 

Sensitivity to noise

Some people with tinnitus find that they are more sensitive to certain noises. High-frequency noises may seem louder or more piercing when you’re experiencing tinnitus. Surprisingly, this increased sensitivity can occur alongside hearing loss too.

While a loss of hearing function may make it more difficult to hear certain pitches, others may appear to be increased. As a result, you can experience hearing loss and sensitivity to certain noises at the same time as tinnitus. Due to this, people are often unsure whether they truly have hearing loss or whether they’re symptoms are caused by tinnitus itself. 

Seeking treatment for tinnitus

To provide effective treatment, your hearing healthcare professional will conduct a range of non-invasive tests and ask you several questions about your symptoms. This will help to establish the cause of your tinnitus and determine which treatments will be appropriate. 

When tinnitus coincides with hearing loss, it can often be remedied easily. By enhancing your hearing function, a hearing health professional can often resolve the symptoms of tinnitus completely. If you wear a hearing aid, your improved hearing function means the brain no longer needs to create noise, thus eliminating the symptoms of tinnitus. 

With a variety of treatment options available, a hearing care provider can help to establish the cause of your tinnitus and deliver an appropriate range of treatments. Whether your tinnitus-related symptoms are associated with hearing loss or occur in isolation, there are various ways to manage the signs of tinnitus and minimize the impact the condition has on your day-to-day life.