What are the Most Common Tinnitus Symptoms?

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  • Written By: Henry Gaudet
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 14 February 2020
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Tinnitus an auditory sensation that seems to come from inside the ear or head, rather than the surrounding environment, and that is heard only by the sufferer. The most common tinnitus symptoms include the hearing of a ringing, hissing, buzzing or whistling noise. More complex sounds similar to a distant ocean roar are common as well. In addition to these sounds, sufferers might also experience symptoms such as dizziness, headache or a sensation of pressure within the ear.

Ringing in the ears is the best known tinnitus symptom, and for many people, the terms are used interchangeably. Other sounds might be caused by tinnitus as well. Hissing, whooshing, buzzing or whistling are commonly perceived. Most often, these sounds are heard as constant tones, but in the case of pulsatile tinnitus, these sounds match the sufferer's heartbeat. These sounds might be heard as constant background noise or might come and go, and they might affect one or both ears.

The same conditions that cause tinnitus might also trigger related tinnitus symptoms. For instance, infection or blockage in the ear might cause a full feeling in the ear. Pressure, ear pain or headache might be experienced as well. Irritation might extend to the inner ear as well, with dizziness being the likely result.


Most people with tinnitus are able to carry on normally, with the condition causing only occasional distraction or inconvenience, but for some people, tinnitus symptoms can cause serious disruption and interfere with their quality of life. Tinnitus symptoms are often more noticeable in very quiet environments. Stress also can aggravate the condition, making symptoms more noticeable.

With most types of tinnitus, only the sufferer can hear the sounds. One form of the condition, called objective tinnitus, does create sounds that can be heard by others. A doctor might be able to hear these sounds with the use of a stethoscope.

Several causes might be responsible for tinnitus. Noisy environments make tinnitus more likely, as do certain medical conditions, such as hardening of the arteries. Tinnitus symptoms also are more likely to develop as a person ages, often coinciding with age-related hearing loss. Blockages because of ear wax or swelling that is related to an infection might cause tinnitus symptoms. Hearing loss is often associated with tinnitus, and damage to the ear might be responsible for both conditions, but hearing loss does not directly cause tinnitus.



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