The American Tinnitus Association defines the condition (which can be pronounced either tin-NYE-tus or TIN-ni-tus) as hearing sounds that no one else can hear. It is a condition that seems to be related to age (most cases appear after the age of 50), and is much more common in men than in women. It affects an estimated 50 million Americans, and for unknown reasons, it also seems to affect twice as many people in the South as in other areas of the country.
Tinnitus can be of different types, and those who experience it may hear very different types of sounds. Subjective tinnitus is the most common, and is defined as the person hearing sounds that no one else can hear; objective tinnitus is much more rare, and is indicated when a doctor or audiologist can also detect these sounds. Beyond these two common forms of tinnitus there are several other less common forms. These include musical hallucinations (a person hears music that is not playing), pulsatile tinnitus where the rhythmic beats of the heart are heard, and low-frequency sounds that are mistaken for real noises in the environment.
The prevalent symptom of tinnitus is a ringing in one or both ears. This is often a continual high-pitched ringing that does not cease. This symptom may also be experienced as a buzzing, hissing, roaring, whistling, or clicking sound, one that can change in both pitch (frequency) and amplitude (loudness). People with mild cases of tinnitus may notice the condition only when they are in quiet places, because the sounds they hear from the environment in noisier places mask the ringing sounds of tinnitus. Some people experience their tinnitus as related to their posture; for example, it is more present when they are lying or sitting down than when they’re standing. Many people perceive their tinnitus to be more of a nuisance than a disorder, but in others it is definitely a source of fatigue, increased stress, and even conditions of depression and anxiety. Interruptions in sleep or concentration are often found in many of these severe cases. Our specialists can quickly diagnose tinnitus by performing a simple, painless examination and hearing test. Tinnitus can be a warning sign of diseases like high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, and Meniere’s disease. If any of these symptoms describe your situation please make an appointment to see us today.