Learn about symptoms, causes and treatment options available. Described as a ringing-in-the-ears or fullness-of-the-head sensation, these are the two most common symptoms of tinnitus in an individual. The noise can range from a ringing, buzzing, hissing or whizzing sound and can change from a soft pitch, to a higher, louder frequency. Individuals with tinnitus also may complain of hearing clicking or sharp sounds; rushing or humming noises or continuous low-pitch noises. Common causes of conductive hearing loss include external ear infection, cerumen impaction, and middle ear effusion. Subjective tinnitus also may be caused by neurologic, metabolic, or psychogenic disorders. Precipitous onset can be linked to excessive or loud noise exposure or head trauma. Head noises such as ringing, perceived when there is no external source, are collectively known as tinnitus. The sounds you may hear range from ringing to buzzing, chirping, beating, humming, and roaring. But when stereocilia are damaged, for example if they’ve been bent out of shape by repeated exposure to loud sounds like gunfire or heavy construction, then this process doesn’t work as it should. Certain medications that are toxic to the ear can also cause tinnitus, as can ear or sinus infections, head or neck injury, certain types of tumors, and vascular problems such as hypertension.
Though tinnitus is from a Latin word meaning to ring like a bell, the perceived sound is variously described not only as ringing, but also buzzing, hissing, or even roaring, whistling, or pounding. Exposure to loud noises such as gunshots, jet engines, industrial machinery, amplified music and jack hammers is linked with tinnitus. This phenomenon is known as objective tinnitus and can be caused by increased intracranial pressure, an aneurysm, temporomandibular jaw joint disorders, normal blood flow through an artery or vein, or a tumor pressing on a blood vessel or nerve. Tinnitus is characterized by a constant or intermittent ringing, whistling or buzzing sound in the ear where the sound is not audible to others. It is not a health condition in itself, but rather a symptom of another health problem or circumstance, such as an ear infection, a buildup of ear wax, prolonged exposure to loud noises and a side-effect of some types of medication. The noise can still be heard from inside the ear and head area.