The American Academy of Audiology refers to tinnitus as “the perception of sound in the ear that is not the result of an external sound”. It is commonly described as a “hissing, roaring, or ringing” in the ear. It can be high pitched or low pitched, tonal or noise-like, and constant, pulsed, or intermittent. You may experience tinnitus in one ear, both ears, or in your head. Tinnitus is not a disease. It is a symptom of underlying issues elsewhere within the body. It can last anywhere from a couple of seconds to a lifetime.

Types of Tinnitus

 There are two types of tinnitus.

  • Subjective Tinnitus – This is the more common form of the two types. It can only be heard by the sufferer. It is normally associated with hearing loss.
  • Objective Tinnitus – This can be heard by someone else but it is much rarer than subjective tinnitus. Your GP or Audiologist may be able to hear the tinnitus with the use of a stethoscope. These noises are produced by the workings of the body. Objective tinnitus is sometimes curable, whereas subjective tinnitus is often not.

Causes of Tinnitus

Hearing Loss

In older people, tinnitus is often caused by natural hearing loss (presbyacusis). Tinnitus is starting to affect a growing number of younger people as a result of the general increase in noise levels in today’s society.


The British Tinnitus Association says that although it is not always clear whether stress causes the onset of tinnitus, or if stress is a contributing factor of tinnitus, it is common for tinnitus to start at times of high stress or after a period of stress. It is also common for existing tinnitus to become worse during stressful periods


Certain types of medication have been known to cause symptoms of tinnitus. If you experience tinnitus and are on regular medication, make sure you speak to your GP to rule out your medication as a contributing factor

Treatments for Tinnitus

If you suffer from tinnitus seek advice from your GP or Audiologist. 

In most cases, tinnitus cannot be cured. However, it can be managed. There are certain treatments that are found to help suppress tinnitus depending on the patient including:

Hearing Aids

Hearing loss is common in tinnitus sufferers. Because you are not hearing general every day sounds well, the tinnitus becomes very apparent. When you rehabilitate the hearing loss and amplify every day sound, the tinnitus itself becomes less noticeable.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a one on one counselling session or talking type therapy. It can help you to change your negative perceptions about your tinnitus into positive and realistic perceptions allowing you to function well and go about your life. This method tries to reduce your stress levels which can subsequently lessen the severity of your tinnitus as tinnitus itself can be caused by stress and not rooted in a hearing loss.

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)

TRT is one of the newer forms of tinnitus therapy. It can be described as a process that teaches you how to cope with your tinnitus on both a conscious and sub conscious level. Essentially, it combines all three of the methods outlined above to help ease your suffering.


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