Tinnitus

Tinnitus is an abnormal sound that we hear.  Tinnitus is caused by a disruption of the sound sense, anywhere from the brain to the cochlea.   It may be a hum, ring, roar, whoosh, click or other sound.  Normally tinnitus can be heard only by the person who has this condition.  There are many possible causes of tinnitus.

A spasm of a muscle in the inner ear

An injury to the cochlea, the organ that conducts hearing

The sound of blood passing through a nearby blood vessel, especially a deformed blood vessel

Increases in the pressure inside the head

Clicking noises can arise from the muscles of the palate

Ocean-like noises can arise from the eustachian tube

Medicine side effects – some medicines are toxic to the inner ear

Small tumors of the acoustic nerve

Certain infections

50 million people in the US have chronic tinnitus, which is a sound symptom lasting longer than 5 months.  People with tinnitus may experience symptoms of anxiety or depression.  Trouble sleeping is often associated with tinnitus.

Testing that is important for evaluating the causes of tinnitus.

Hearing tests

MRI or CT studies to look at the blood vessels

Exam by an ENT specialist