Tinnitus is the sound of ringing, roaring, buzzing, hissing or clicking in the ears. It can be caused by many different things in and around the ears, within the body, or even as a reaction to loud noises. Ninety percent of tinnitus is caused by hearing loss.

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Our Smell, Hearing & Communication Disorders Center brings together subspecialists who are experts in the full spectrum of neurologic disorders of the senses. Knowing that these conditions often have more than one cause, our highly trained teams collaborate to bring you an accurate diagnosis and customize your treatment plan backed by the latest research.

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To schedule an appointment, please call the UC Health Otology & Neurotology team at 513-475-8400. For cochlear implant or bone-anchored hearing aid appointments, you can reach us at cochlearimplant@uchealth.com.

About This Condition

Understanding Tinnitus

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the sound of ringing in the ears. It may also be described as roaring, buzzing, hissing, or clicking inside the head. The sounds may come and go, or they may be ongoing. The sound may happen in one or both ears. Sounds may have different tones.

What causes tinnitus?

Tinnitus may be caused by many things, including:

  • Damage to the nerve endings in the inner ear.

  • Stiffening of bones in the middle ear.

  • Being older.

  • Exposure to loud noises.

  • Allergy.

  • High or low blood pressure.

  • Tumor.

  • Diabetes.

  • Thyroid problems.

  • Head or neck injury.

  • Reaction to certain medicines.

  • Wax buildup.

  • Jaw misalignment.

  • Certain medicines.

What are the symptoms of tinnitus?

People with tinnitus will often complain of hearing these sounds in their head:

  • Ringing.

  • Roaring.

  • Buzzing.

  • Hissing.

  • Clicking.

They may complain that they have trouble sleeping.

How is tinnitus diagnosed?

The diagnosis of tinnitus includes a complete health history and physical exam. Your healthcare provider may request an audiological evaluation. Depending on the suspected cause of the tinnitus, other tests may be needed.

How is tinnitus treated?

Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

Currently there is no known cure for tinnitus, but experts suggest trying one of the following to find relief:

  • Hearing aids. These may help some people with tinnitus who have hearing loss. If you have hearing loss, patients often report that their tinnitus is much less noticeable when wearing hearing aids.

  • Cochlear implants. This option is for those who have tinnitus and severe hearing loss that cannot be treated with hearing aids.

  • Maskers. These provide help for some people by making tinnitus less noticeable. This small electronic device creates sound that may make the ringing or roaring seem softer.

  • Medicines. Some medicines may ease tinnitus by addressing a problem linked to the condition. Medicines may also improve mood or sleep.

  • Tinnitus retraining therapy. This therapy uses a combination of counseling and sound therapy or maskers. An ear, nose, and throat doctor (otolaryngologist) or a hearing specialist (audiologist) can help you learn how to deal with tinnitus.

  • Counseling. You may find it helpful to meet with a counselor or support group.

  • Relaxation. This may provide relief as stress may make tinnitus worse.

Living with tinnitus

Tinnitus can affect your quality of life. Your healthcare provider may be able to figure out the underlying cause, which can then be treated. Work with your healthcare provider to come up with ways to reduce tinnitus.

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