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^ McCombe A, Baguley D, Coles R, McKenna L, McKinney C, Windle-Taylor P (2001). "Guidelines for the grading of tinnitus severity: the results of a working group commissioned by the British Association of Otolaryngologists, Head and Neck Surgeons, 1999". Clinical Otolaryngology and Allied Sciences. 26 (5): 388–93. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2273.2001.00490.x. PMID 11678946. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-09-24.

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Your symptoms will depend on the cause of your hearing loss and your age. For adults, symptoms may include having trouble hearing. A common first sign is difficulty in understanding people, particularly in noisy places. You may complain that others are mumbling. Your ear may feel muffled, blocked or plugged. You may also feel as though there is water or pressure in your ear.


Typically, people describe acoustic shock as feeling like they have been stabbed or electrocuted in the ear. The symptoms are involuntary, unpleasant and frightening; they can range from mild to severe; and be of short, temporary duration or persistent. If symptoms persist, a range of emotional reactions including trauma, anxiety and depression can develop.
According to Ramirez et al, at a peripheral level TTTS appears to trigger a series of physiological reactions in and around the ear from tympanic membrane tension and alterations in middle ear ventilation. The tensor tympani muscle is innervated by the motor portion of the mandibular branch of the trigeminal nerve, and the authors consider that TTTS can lead to, and in an efferent pathway be caused by, an abnormal stimulation of the trigeminal nerve. This can lead to a chronic irritation of the trigeminal nerve, as well as other cranial and cervical sensory nerves of the ear and periauricular region. Central sensitisation can develop from the resultant chronic pain, leading to an expansion of the perceived peripheral pain and resulting in the typical symptoms of severe TMD.
^ Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 Collaborators (August 2015). "Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 301 acute and chronic diseases and injuries in 188 countries, 1990-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013". Lancet. 386 (9995): 743–800. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(15)60692-4. PMC 4561509. PMID 26063472.
Speech perception is another aspect of hearing which involves the perceived clarity of a word rather than the intensity of sound made by the word. In humans, this is usually measured with speech discrimination tests, which measure not only the ability to detect sound, but also the ability to understand speech. There are very rare types of hearing loss that affect speech discrimination alone. One example is auditory neuropathy, a variety of hearing loss in which the outer hair cells of the cochlea are intact and functioning, but sound information is not faithfully transmitted by the auditory nerve to the brain.[22]
Rather than a disease, tinnitus is a symptom that may result from various underlying causes.[2] The most common causes are hearing damage, noise-induced hearing loss or age-related hearing loss, known as presbycusis.[2] Other causes include ear infections, disease of the heart or blood vessels, Ménière's disease, brain tumors, exposure to certain medications, a previous head injury, earwax, and sometimes, the tinnitus is suddenly perceived during a period of emotional stress.[2][4] It is more common in those with depression.[3]

The initial physiological symptoms of acoustic shock are considered to be a direct consequence of excessive, involuntary middle ear muscle contractions. While the stapedial reflex is an acoustic reflex triggered by high volume levels, the tensor tympani reflex is a startle reflex (6, 7) which is exaggerated by high stress levels. The tensor tympani muscle contracts immediately preceding the sounds produced during self-vocalisation, suggesting it has an established protective function to loud sounds (1), assists in the discrimination of low frequency sounds (8), and is involved in velopharyngeal movements (8).
Fluid accumulation is the most common cause of conductive hearing loss in the middle ear, especially in children.[2] Major causes are ear infections or conditions that block the eustachian tube, such as allergies or tumors.[2] Blocking of the eustachian tube leads to decreased pressure in the middle ear relative to the external ear, and this causes decreased motion of both the ossicles and the tympanic membrane.[3]

In the United States hearing is one of the health outcomes measure by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a survey research program conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. It examines health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States. Data from the United States in 2011-2012 found that rates of hearing loss has declined among adults aged 20 to 69 years, when compared with the results from an earlier time period (1999-2004). It also found that adult hearing loss is associated with increasing age, sex, race/ethnicity, educational level, and noise exposure.[111] Nearly one in four adults had audiometric results suggesting noise-induced hearing loss. Almost one in four adults who reported excellent or good hearing had a similar pattern (5.5% on both sides and 18% on one side). Among people who reported exposure to loud noise at work, almost one third had such changes.[112]
Muscle spasms: Tinnitus that is described as clicking may be due to abnormalities that cause the muscle in the roof of the mouth (palate) to go into spasm. This causes the Eustachian tube, which helps equalize pressure in the ears, to repeatedly open and close. Multiple sclerosis and other neurologic diseases that are associated with muscle spasms may also be a cause of tinnitus, as they may lead to spasms of certain muscles in the middle ear that can cause the repetitive clicking.

Tympanometry, or acoustic immitance testing, is a simple objective test of the ability of the middle ear to transmit sound waves from the outer ear to the middle ear and to the inner ear. This test is usually abnormal with conductive hearing loss. A type B tympanogram reveals a flat response, due to fluid in the middle ear (otitis media), or an eardrum perforation.[4] A type C tympanogram indicates negative middle ear pressure, which is commonly seen in eustachian tube dysfunction[4]. A type As tympanogram indicates a shallow compliance of the middle ear, which is commonly seen in otosclerosis[4].


Some instances of tinnitus are caused by infections or blockages in the ear, and the tinnitus can disappear once the underlying cause is treated. Frequently, however, tinnitus continues after the underlying condition is treated. In such a case, other therapies -- both conventional and alternative -- may bring significant relief by either decreasing or covering up the unwanted sound.
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