Most people have heard of the condition tinnitus, often described as a ringing in the ears, and more than 50 million US citizens suffer to some degree. Twelve million people suffer so much they have sought out professional treatment.

How do you know if you have tinnitus? What are the signs of tinnitus?

Consider the four following common signs of tinnitus:

Phantom noise

Tinnitus is often a phantom noise in your ears, meaning a noise only you can hear. Most describe it as a ringing, but it isn’t always. Below is a short list of other sounds tinnitus can show up as:

  • Ringing
  • Buzzing
  • Hissing
  • Whirring
  • Clicking

Tinnitus sounds vary from person to person. What remains the same is that the sufferer only hears the noise, and that it is not usually a psychological condition (although stress and anxiety can play a part). That being said, there are two types of tinnitus; objective and subjective. Subjective is the most common, where the sound is heard only by the patient. Objective is where the tinnitus is actually loud enough to be heard by the person doing the examination.

Sensitivity to sounds

If you’re suffering from sensitivity to sounds, for instance, finding the TV or radio too loud, you could have damaged your inner ear. Those with tinnitus aren’t always sensitive to other sounds, but some are, and in some cases pain even comes with the condition.

A beating in time with your pulse

A beating in time with your pulse is called Pulsatile tinnitus. It is thought that this is caused from blood flow changes in the vessels near the ear. The symptom isn’t always permanent, but it’s always best to get it checked over to make sure. In some cases, it can be caused by something as simple as air conditioning.

Musical hallucinations

As tinnitus isn’t classed as a psychological condition, this one may sound strange. However, musical hallucinations can happen, where the sufferer hears snippets of songs instead of traditional ringing. This type of tinnitus can be caused by substance abuse, but there are a number of other things to take into account too, such as whether the sufferer has a condition like epilepsy.

If you suspect you’re suffering from tinnitus, there are a few things you can do. Assessing your lifestyle choices and factors, as well as the environments you’re spending the most time in can help. If you work to reduce your exposure and still suffer from tinnitus, visiting an audiologist is best. Severe tinnitus should be treated right away. Tinnitus isn’t always caused by ear damage, and can happen to anybody for not so obvious reasons, too. Treatment can greatly improve a sufferer’s quality of life, and there are many options, from hearing aids to cochlear implants.