Tinnitus is the term for hearing noises in your ears when there is no outside source of the sounds. There are two broad types of tinnitus:
- Middle-ear tinnitus (produced in the middle ear behind your eardrum)
- Sensorineural tinnitus (produced by your nervous system)
Middle-ear tinnitus is rare, and it is a result of hearing your muscles twitch or movement of blood in blood vessels. Sometimes these can be treated with an operation.
Sensorineural tinnitus is much more common. Approximately one in every 10 Americans will experience some form of tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. The mechanisms that produce tinnitus are not completely understood.
There are many different causes of tinnitus. Some of the most common causes include:
- Head injury
- Meniere’s disease - an inner ear disorder that involves hearing loss and dizziness
- Noise exposure
However, for many people, the exact cause of tinnitus is unknown.
People react very differently to their tinnitus. Some find it a little bothersome, but largely ignore it. Others are distressed by their tinnitus and have difficulty concentrating and getting to sleep. There are several treatments that can help people cope with their tinnitus, including:
- Hearing aids
- Psychological therapy
- Sound therapy
Interested in Participating in Tinnitus Research?
Individuals interested in participating in a tinnitus study should complete our online questionnaire, which will help us determine your eligibility.
Watch a video interview of Richard Tyler, PhD, director of the Tinnitus Patient Conference. Professionals and patients are welcome to attend the next conference June 13-14, 2014 in Iowa City, Iowa.
As part of our ongoing research, we invite our patients to complete surveys about their experience with tinnitus. If you are interested in sharing information about your condition, please consider completing the following surveys:
Questionnaire for Patients
- Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Clinic: Some people report that many sounds are too loud for them, however these same sounds do not appear too loud to others. This is called hyperacusis. We invite you to participate in a survey with the hope of understanding and better treating hyperacusis. You must be 18 years of age or older to complete this survey.
Questionnaires for Providers
We have created a series of questionnaires that may be useful for health care professionals working with patients who experience tinnitus. These questionnaires may be used to identify specific areas of a patient’s life that are affected by tinnitus, as well as monitor a patient’s progress with a particular treatment. Translations of these questionnaires are also available in a growing number of languages.