Hearing Loss

Frequently Asked Questions

3. What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a roaring, clicking, hissing, or buzzing sound in the ears, and it is common in older people. It is a symptom, not a disease, and it can accompany any type of hearing loss. Tinnitus is frequently caused by presbycusis (age-related hearing loss), exposure to loud noise or certain medications. Something as simple as a piece of earwax blocking the ear canal can cause tinnitus, but it can also be the result of a number of health conditions, such as ear or sinus infections and problems in the heart and blood vessels. Tinnitus might be heard in one or both ears and be loud or soft. It may come and go, or stop altogether.

If you think you have tinnitus, see your primary care doctor. You may be referred to an otolaryngologist—a doctor who specializes in the medical and surgical treatment of ear, nose, and throat diseases—also commonly called an ear, nose, and throat doctor, or an ENT. The ENT will physically examine your head, neck, and ears and test your hearing to determine the appropriate treatment.

Learn more about tinnitus.