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What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a sound that only you can hear. No one around you can hear the annoying buzzing or ringing sound because it’s being generated by your brain. For some people, tinnitus is a low rumbling, while others experience it as a high-pitched ringing. Tinnitus can be constant, or it may come and go throughout the day or the week. You will notice tinnitus the most often when you’re in a quiet environment, and you may not notice it at all when there are other sounds around or when you’re busy.

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Do You Have Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a very common experience for over +100 million adults worldwide. But everyone responds to tinnitus in a different way. For some, tinnitus is a mild annoyance. For others, it’s a constant irritation and source of stress.

There are several questionaries available online that can help you think about your experience of tinnitus. These include the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory Questionnaire and the Tinnitus Annoyance Scale. You can complete one of these questionnaires before your appointment with your hearing aids specialist. This information will help your audiologist understand your experience of tinnitus, the degree of annoyance you’re experiencing, and what underlying problems you may have.

Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

Because hearing loss is the #1 contributor to tinnitus, an important first step for treatment is scheduling a comprehensive hearing test. Our Audiologists provide a comprehensive hearing evaluation that will include a medical history, a visual inspection, a complete audiometric evaluation, and a tinnitus assessment. The results can help us identify or rule out underlying concerns that could be causing your tinnitus.


Common Causes of Tinnitus

Hearing Loss

 : A primary cause of tinnitus is damage in the inner ear. This damage occurs through aging, noise exposure, genetic tendency, toxins, or even certain medications. Tinnitus that accompanies hearing loss is often described as a high pitch ringing.


 : Many medications list “tinnitus” as a common side effect. Your pharmacist can provide you with a list of known side effects for your medications, or they may be able to counsel you as to the effects of drug interactions if you take multiple prescriptions.

Changes in Blood Flow

 : Throbbing or pulsating tinnitus may be due to changes in blood flow through the arteries and veins in the ear. The tympanic membrane is highly vascular, so if you have high blood pressure you may hear a soft hissing or pulsating tinnitus sound


 : Tumors may also be vascular, and they have increased blood flow within them. Tumors can grow anywhere in the auditory mechanism, from the tympanic membrane or middle ear space to the neural pathways in the brain. A tumor anywhere in the auditory system may cause tinnitus and hearing loss.

Muscle spasms

 : Tinnitus that is described as clicking or fluttering may be due to muscle spasms. A spasm in the muscle along the roof of the mouth causes the Eustachian tube to repeatedly open and close. This tube helps equalize pressure in the ears, but constant opening and closing may cause tinnitus. Muscle spasms in ear muscles, like the tensor tympani, can also cause a fluttering sensation or tinnitus. Multiple sclerosis and other neurologic diseases that are associated with muscle spasms may also be a cause of tinnitus. When muscles in the middle ear spasm, it can cause a repetitive clicking sound.


 : Excessive ear wax (cerumen) is associated with sounds of crackling or snapping. A fully occluded ear canal may also be associated with a roaring tinnitus or increased loudness in tonal tinnitus.

Tinnitus Management

AVA Hearing Center offers hearing aids with built-in tinnitus management. These programs can provide tinnitus relief and let you enjoy your day without all the buzzing or ringing. Most tinnitus management programs provide sound masking. They’re calibrated to your unique tinnitus and will play white noise, nature sounds, or even music to mask the tinnitus. This can be used to provide relief from tinnitus. For tinnitus treatment in Grand Rapids, visit AVA Hearing Center today.