Tinnitus Symptoms

Authored by Dr Mary Harding, 06 Jul 2017

Patient is a certified member of
The Information Standard

Reviewed by:
Dr Helen Huins, 06 Jul 2017

Tinnitus can be either constant or come and go. It can vary in loudness and character from time to time.

Tinnitus is an abnormal noise (or noises) that you can hear. However, the noise does not come from outside your ear. The sorts of noises that people hear include:

  • Ringing.
  • Buzzing.
  • Whistles.
  • Roaring.
  • Humming.
  • Machine-type noises.
  • A pulse or beat which is at the same rate as your pulse.

Tinnitus can be either constant or come and go. It can vary in loudness and character from time to time. You can hear the noise or noises in one ear, or in both ears, or it may be difficult to pinpoint where the noise seems to come from.

The noise is often more prominent when you are in a quiet place. For example, when you are in bed and trying to get to sleep. It may also be more noticeable when you're tired.

Some people with tinnitus are also more sensitive to normal everyday sounds. For example, some people with tinnitus find that a radio or TV is painfully loud when it is at a normal volume for most people.

For most people with tinnitus, nobody else can hear the noise. In one very uncommon type of tinnitus (objective tinnitus), the noise can be heard by another person listening very carefully. This is not the usual type of tinnitus and it is rare. It is usually due to a problem with blood or blood vessels, making them pulsate differently to usual.

Tinnitus is common and can occur at any age. Most people have an occasional episode of tinnitus after going to a loud concert or disco. For most people, this is temporary and soon goes. As many as 1 in 10 people have persistent tinnitus that is mild and not very troublesome. However, about 1 in 100 people have tinnitus which persists most of the time, and severely affects their quality of life.

Many people with tinnitus improve, with or without any treatment. Between 2 and 5 out of every 10 people with tinnitus improve within five years. Even if it does not go completely, it can become less severe or less frequent. How troublesome tinnitus is tends to go up and down.

For some people, tinnitus is just a little annoying. On the other end of the scale, for others it can really reduce their enjoyment of life. It may:

  • Cause problems sleeping (insomnia).
  • Cause anxiety.
  • Lead to depression.
  • Result in reduced social interaction.
  • Occasionally, even lead to suicide.

Further reading and references

Does tinnitus lead to hearing loss?

Thought I'd reach out to the community for help please as I have developed constant pulsatile tinnitus along with intermittent dizziness 2 months ago since I lowered my dose of seroxat to almost...

seroxatbegone
Health Tools

Feeling unwell?

Assess your symptoms online with our free symptom checker.

Start symptom checker
Listen