Causes of Tinnitus

Tinnitus is not a disease but rather a symptom of another underlying problem. It is estimated that 90% of the individuals free of any ear disease or active pathology experience tinnitus from time to time. A brief occurrence of tinnitus (usually not exceeding several minutes) in one or both ears on an infrequent basis is a normal phenomenon. Tinnitus becomes a problem when it enters consciousness on a constant and prolonged basis.

Studies have demonstrated that a large number of individuals have tinnitus normally but are completely unaware of it as a factor within their lives. For many, if placed within a sound-isolating chamber and left in silence with the instruction to listen for sound, tinnitus will become present. In a normal environment, with even minimal amounts of ambient noise, these individuals are not aware of the tinnitus sound.

When pathology arises in any portion of the human auditory system, tinnitus may occur as an accompanying symptom. This usually is true as the pathology itself decreases the individual’s hearing sensitivity so that the previously unheard tinnitus becomes audible.


Pathologies that may create tinnitus as a symptom may include:

  • Outer-ear disorders such as impacted ear wax, foreign objects lodged in the ear canal, external ear infection, or eardrum perforation.
  • Middle-ear disorders such as middle ear infection, a stiffening (otosclerosis) or breaking of the chain of bones in the middle ear, vascular anomalies, neuromuscular tics, middle ear tumors
  • Inner-ear disorders such as Menieres disease, ear toxicity to medications, hearing loss, circulatory failure, head trauma, or inner ear infection
  • Central nervous system disorders such as vascular malformations, tumors, syphilis, epilepsy, or concussion
  • Or other disorders such as anemia, carotid arteriosclerosis, cardiac murmurs, or allergy

While most pathologies resulting in a tinnitus symptom create a tinnitus that is only heard by the tinnitus sufferer (subjective tinnitus), some tinnitus sounds with a vascular or neuromuscular origin can be faintly audible to others (objective tinnitus).

Most often tinnitus is not the symptom of any overt medical condition, but rather a sign of changes within the hearing nerve receptors as discussed in the section titled Underlying Pathophysiology. Only after potential medical pathologies have been ruled out as precursors to tinnitus should treatment of the tinnitus itself be undertaken. Often, if a medical condition is found needing attention, treatment of that condition will lead to tinnitus relief.

Our Convenient Locations

Middletown Office

1040-A Summitt Drive
Middletown, OH 45042

Hamilton Office

20 N E Street
Hamilton, OH 45013

Lebanon Office

101 Dave Avenue
Suite B1
Lebanon, OH 45036

Cincinnati Office

6860 Wooster Pike
Cincinnati, OH 45227

Get Directions

American Board of Audiology - Board Certified in Audiology
Home  |  © 2024 Elite Audiology Services Web Development by i3studios