A Tutorial on Tinnitus

A Tutorial on Tinnitus

Tinnitus (pronounced “tin-it-tus”) is an abnormal noise in the ear.  It is extremely common – nearly 36 million Americans have tinnitus.  More than half of the normal population has intermittent tinnitus.  About 6% of the general population has what they consider to be “severe” tinnitus.   Tinnitus may be in both ears or just in one ear.  Seven million Americans are so severely affected that they cannot lead normal lives.


  • Ringing
  • Buzzing
  • Hissing
  • Whistling
  • Clicking
  • Pulsing
  • Roaring
  • Whooshing


There are two different categories or kinds of tinnitus.

  • Subjective tinnitus is tinnitus only you can hear. This is the most common type of tinnitus. It can be caused by ear problems in your outer, middle or inner ear. It also can be caused by problems with the hearing (auditory) nerves or the part of your brain that interprets nerve signals as sound.
  • Objective tinnitus (believe it or not) is tinnitus your doctor can hear when he or she does an examination. This rare type of tinnitus may be caused by a blood vessel problem, an inner ear bone condition or muscle contractions.


Most tinnitus comes from damage to the inner ear or cochlea.

There are many other causes of tinnitus.

  • Ear wax.
  • Exposure to loud noise
  • middle ear infection or fluid
  • injury to the nerve from the ear to the brain, and central nervous system damage.
  • aneurysms,
  • increased pressure in the head (hydrocephalus), and
  • hardening of the arteries.
  • Brain tumors
  • Loud noise both short term and long term. inner ear damage and tinnitus.

Many medications can also cause tinnitus.

Drugs that can cause tinnitus include:

  • NSAIDS (motrin, naproxen, etc.
  • Beta-blockers (inderal)
  • Antidepressant
  • Lasix and other diuretics
  • “Mycin” antibiotics
  • Quinine
  • Chemotherapy
  • Heavy metals (such as used for parasitic infections)
  • Marijuana
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Aspirin


Persons with tinnitus should have an examination of the ears, and a hearing test.  The TMJ (tempromandibular joints) of the jaw should be checked as about 28% of persons with TMJ syndrome experience tinnitus.  Additional testing may be suggested based on both your medical history and the outcome of your examination.