The Symptoms of Tinnitus

What are tinnitus symptoms?

Tinnitus affects you in different ways. You may only notice it when you go to bed at night after a loud concert, or you may find that the constant noise seriously affects your day-to-day quality life. Whatever the severity, you will have one thing in common: a high-pitched whistling, buzzing, ringing, humming or 'roaring ocean' sound in one or both ears.

Whether your tinnitus occurs daily or at specific times, it can have a noticeable effect on your concentration levels and ability to focus on other sounds or conversations around you. You may find that the condition worsens according to posture, often due to the pressure changes associated with moving your head or lying down. The noise can also seem more prominent when you're feeling tired, stressed or are in noticeably  quiet surroundings.

Severe or long-standing tinnitus symptoms tend to align with one of three categories outlined below:


If you are suffering from Hyperacusis you might find that you become more sensitive to everyday sounds. For instance, you might find the noise coming from a television or radio to be painfully loud, despite it being set at a 'normal' volume. Hyperacusis is often the result of prolonged exposure to loud sounds, most prevalent amongst musicians and if you work regularly with industrial machinery.

Musical hallucinations

More common if you struggle with long-term tinnitus or extensive hearing loss. You may suffer musical hallucinations where you are plagued by snippets of songs instead of the traditional ringing. This form of the condition may be caused or exacerbated by stress, epilepsy and substance misuse.

Pulsatile tinnitus

Pulsatile tinnitus is different to regular tinnitus in that you may hear rhythmical noises that beat in time with your pulse. This condition is often attributed to blood flow changes in the vessels near the ear, or to a specific condition such as a perforated eardrum or atherosclerosis.

To recognise tinnitus

As tinnitus symptoms are so diverse, you may not realise you have the condition until it becomes significantly worse. You may mistake a regular exterior noise in your life to be coming from within. Before self-diagnosing, consider your surroundings:

  • Have you been running an air conditioner permanently in the office?
  • Do you live by a busy main road?

If you only notice the noise when you're in one particular environment, the chances are your tinnitus will pass or it is in fact an outside noise.

However, if you’ve noticed a quiet buzz or another sound for longer than a week, it is worth consulting your doctor. If you have also been suffering from headaches, dizziness or physical pain, make an appointment quickly as tinnitus can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.

Our expert hearing care professionals can provide any additional support and advice as to next steps and whether hearing aids might be something to explore as many have tinnitus options and settings to help the symptoms.

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