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]
Hearing loss can be inherited. Around 75–80% of all these cases are inherited by recessive genes, 20–25% are inherited by dominant genes, 1–2% are inherited by X-linked patterns, and fewer than 1% are inherited by mitochondrial inheritance.[55] Syndromic deafness occurs when there are other signs or medical problems aside from deafness in an individual,[55] such as Usher syndrome, Stickler syndrome, Waardenburg syndrome, Alport's syndrome, and neurofibromatosis type 2. Nonsyndromic deafness occurs when there are no other signs or medical problems associated with an individual other than deafness.[55]
The diagnosis of tinnitus is based on the patient’s history. Questionnaires also help assess how much the tinnitus is impacting the patient’s quality of life. The diagnosis can be supported with a neurological examination, an audiogram, and medical imaging if necessary. In rare cases, the clinician can hear the ringing sound using a stethoscope. (This is known as objective tinnitus.) Prevention of tinnitus involves avoiding loud noises and seeking appropriate treatment to prevent the condition from worsening.

Studies have shown that older adults with hearing loss have a greater risk of developing dementia than older adults with normal hearing. Cognitive abilities (including memory and concentration) decline faster in older adults with hearing loss than in older adults with normal hearing. Treating hearing problems may be important for cognitive health. See What’s the Connection Between Hearing and Cognitive Health?
Conductive hearing loss occurs when sounds aren’t able to travel from the outer ear to the eardrum and the bones of the middle ear. When this type of hearing loss occurs, you may find it difficult to hear soft or muffled sounds. Conductive hearing loss isn’t always permanent. Medical interventions can treat it. Treatment may include antibiotics or surgical interventions, such as a cochlear implant. A cochlear implant is a small electrical machine placed under your skin behind the ear. It translates sound vibrations into electrical signals that your brain can then interpret as meaningful sound.

This is a very structured approach to managing tinnitus. Basically, TRT assumes that the tinnitus has been prioritised as an important signal. TRT uses sounds at a particular level to try to reduce the priority of the tinnitus so that you no longer hear it. It is based on the idea that we can get used to sounds, e.g. the sound of the fridge or air conditioner, so we can also get used to this sound of tinnitus. The process of getting used to the tinnitus sound is called habituation. TRT uses sound generators and counselling to attempt to retrain how the brain processes sound so that you habituate to the tinnitus. Most people working in the tinnitus field will use elements of TRT but the strict method is not frequently used because there is limited evidence for its effectiveness.
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].
^ Jump up to: a b Schecklmann, Martin; Vielsmeier, Veronika; Steffens, Thomas; Landgrebe, Michael; Langguth, Berthold; Kleinjung, Tobias; Andersson, Gerhard (18 April 2012). "Relationship between Audiometric Slope and Tinnitus Pitch in Tinnitus Patients: Insights into the Mechanisms of Tinnitus Generation". PLOS ONE. 7 (4): e34878. Bibcode:2012PLoSO...734878S. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034878. PMC 3329543. PMID 22529949.
When there does not seem to be a connection with a disorder of the inner ear or auditory nerve, the tinnitus is called nonotic (i.e. not otic). In some 30% of tinnitus cases, the tinnitus is influenced by the somatosensory system, for instance, people can increase or decrease their tinnitus by moving their face, head, or neck.[25] This type is called somatic or craniocervical tinnitus, since it is only head or neck movements that have an effect.[23]
^ Fuente A, Qiu W, Zhang M, Xie H, Kardous CA, Campo P, Morata TC (March 2018). "Use of the kurtosis statistic in an evaluation of the effects of noise and solvent exposures on the hearing thresholds of workers: An exploratory study" (PDF). The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 143 (3): 1704–1710. Bibcode:2018ASAJ..143.1704F. doi:10.1121/1.5028368. PMID 29604694.

Post-lingual deafness is hearing loss that is sustained after the acquisition of language, which can occur due to disease, trauma, or as a side-effect of a medicine. Typically, hearing loss is gradual and often detected by family and friends of affected individuals long before the patients themselves will acknowledge the disability.[41] Post-lingual deafness is far more common than pre-lingual deafness. Those who lose their hearing later in life, such as in late adolescence or adulthood, face their own challenges, living with the adaptations that allow them to live independently.
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]
^ 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.
If there is no obvious cause of hearing loss, your doctor can refer you for a hearing assessment with an audiologist or an ear nose and throat (ENT) specialist. They will look into your ears and test your hearing to see how well you can detect different levels of sound. This assessment will help find the cause of your hearing loss and what treatments would work best.
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]
▶ For most inner ear problems, a sodium-restricted, caffeine-free diet is recommended. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and its intake makes the symptoms of inner ear disorder (especially headache and dizziness) appear more pronounced. Hence, it is advisable to reduce the intake of caffeine as much as possible till the condition is completely treated. Excess sugar in the diet also triggers dizziness.
Frequent, prolonged exposure to loud noise increases the risk of getting tinnitus, or of making it worse, so take care to avoid very loud sounds, or protect your ears against them. Wear proper ear protectors (not cotton wool) when hammering metal, using power tools or when you are near any noisy motors. Ear protection is also important if you watch live music or play in a band or orchestra. Ear protection should not be used if ordinary, everyday sounds are uncomfortable (this may be hyperacusis or oversensitivity to sound). If earplugs are worn for blocking out such sounds, it can actually make hyperacusis worse.
If your only symptom is an earache, you may want to wait a day or two before seeing a doctor. Sometimes ear infections resolve on their own within a few days. If the pain isn’t getting better and you’re running a fever, you should see your doctor as soon as you can. If fluid is draining from your ear or you’re having trouble hearing, you should also seek medical attention.
NEVER put anything inside your ear to remove earwax, such as cotton buds or your finger. Always use earplugs or a swimming hat over your ears when you swim. When showering or taking a bath at home, avoid getting water or shampoo in your ears. Do treat any conditions affecting your ears, such as eczema or allergies. Some people can find their hearing aids cause irritation.
Consider education and motivation. Set up training sessions for EU Noise Directive and Acoustic Shocks safety needs – something that can be done by bringing the appropriate and independent expertise from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or the Acoustic Safety Programme. Remember: educational methods and materials should be tailored to the specific audience. The goal of education and training is not just to inform, but also to motivate. Dynamic, relevant training will imbue workers with a sense of personal control over their hearing health, lead to the development of intrinsic motivation to adopt positive hearing health.

As ASD symptoms are subjective, they are easily misunderstood, misdiagnosed or not believed. An inadequate understanding of the symptoms often exacerbates anxiety, and can lead to confusion and distress. The long term symptoms of severe ASD are consistent with severe hyperacusis, or category 4 according to the Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) system of classification. Some of the most severe cases of hyperacusis seen in my clinic are those with ASD.
Repeated loud noise exposure can be a cause of tinnitus as well as hearing loss. Loud music may cause short term symptoms, but repeated occupational exposure (for example, musicians, factory and construction workers) requires less intense sound levels to cause potential hearing damage leading to tinnitus. Minimizing sound exposure, therefore, decreases the risk of developing tinnitus. Sound protection equipment, like acoustic ear-muffs, may be appropriate at work and at home when exposed to loud noises.
A conductive hearing loss reduces the ability to hear at a normal hearing level. The symptoms of a conductive hearing loss are therefore partial or full loss of hearing. The hearing loss can be in one ear or both ears. If a conductive hearing loss occurs suddenly or the hearing is reduced more and more over a short time, you should see a doctor to get your ears examined.
Physical exam: Physical examination will focus on the head and neck, and especially the ears, including the auditory canals and tympanic membranes. Since the sense of hearing is conducted through one of the cranial nerves (the short nerves that lead directly from the brain to the face, head and neck), a careful neurologic exam also may be performed. Weakness or numbness in the face, mouth, and neck may be associated with a tumor or other structural abnormality pressing on a nerve. The healthcare professional may listen to the flow in the carotid arteries in the neck for an abnormal sound (bruit), since carotid artery stenosis (narrowing of the artery) can transmit a sound to the ear that may cause tinnitus.
Pure tone audiometry, a standardized hearing test over a set of frequencies from 250 Hz to 8000 Hz, may be conducted by a medical doctor, audiologist or audiometrist, with the result plotted separately for each ear on an audiogram. The shape of the plot reveals the degree and nature of hearing loss, distinguishing conductive hearing loss from other kinds of hearing loss. A conductive hearing loss is characterized by a difference of at least 15 decibels between the air conduction threshold and bone conduction threshold at the same frequency. On an audiogram, the "x" represents responses in the left ear at each frequency, while the "o" represents responses in right ear at each frequency.

^ Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 Collaborators (October 2016). "Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 310 diseases and injuries, 1990-2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015". Lancet. 388 (10053): 1545–1602. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(16)31678-6. PMC 5055577. PMID 27733282.
The accepted definition of chronic tinnitus, as compared to normal ear noise experience, is five minutes of ear noise occurring at least twice a week.[51] However, people with chronic tinnitus often experience the noise more frequently than this and can experience it continuously or regularly, such as during the night when there is less environmental noise to mask the sound.
The first person to talk to is your GP. You may need to be referred to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeon or an Audiovestibular Physician, who will rule out any medical factors, assess your hearing and probably give you some information about what tinnitus is and how best to manage it. Some hospitals have hearing therapists or specially trained audiologists who are available to offer more support if you need it.
Hyperacusis is an increased sensitivity to sound. If you find that everyday or ordinary sounds are uncomfortable, you may have hyperacusis. Whilst it might seem natural to want to block out as much sound as possible, avoiding sound can actually make hyperacusis worse. Talk to your GP about this and ask for a referral to either an ENT Surgeon or Audiovestibular Physician who will be able to suggest management options – often, using sound (in a very controlled way) can improve hyperacusis.

Post-lingual deafness is hearing loss that is sustained after the acquisition of language, which can occur due to disease, trauma, or as a side-effect of a medicine. Typically, hearing loss is gradual and often detected by family and friends of affected individuals long before the patients themselves will acknowledge the disability.[41] Post-lingual deafness is far more common than pre-lingual deafness. Those who lose their hearing later in life, such as in late adolescence or adulthood, face their own challenges, living with the adaptations that allow them to live independently.

An assessment of hyperacusis, a frequent accompaniment of tinnitus,[57] may also be made.[58] The measured parameter is Loudness Discomfort Level (LDL) in dB, the subjective level of acute discomfort at specified frequencies over the frequency range of hearing. This defines a dynamic range between the hearing threshold at that frequency and the loudnes discomfort level. A compressed dynamic range over a particular frequency range is associated with subjectve hyperacusis. Normal hearing threshold is generally defined as 0–20 decibels (dB). Normal loudness discomfort levels are 85–90+ dB, with some authorities citing 100 dB. A dynamic range of 55 dB or less is indicative of hyperacusis.[59][60]
Outer ear infection: otitis externa – usually affects adults aged 45 to 75. It affects the ear canal and is often caused by bacterial infection of the skin of the canal, or a fungus or a yeast. It can also be caused by an irritation such as wearing earplugs or a hearing aid. It is common in people who suffer from skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis but also in people who are keen swimmers.
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]
Tinnitus may be perceived in one or both ears. The noise can be described in many different ways but is reported as a noise inside a person's head in the absence of auditory stimulation. It often is described as a ringing noise, but in some people, it takes the form of a high-pitched whining, electric buzzing, hissing, humming, tinging, whistling, ticking, clicking, roaring, beeping, sizzling, a pure steady tone such as that heard during a hearing test, or sounds that slightly resemble human voices, tunes, songs, or animal sounds such as "crickets", "tree frogs", or "locusts (cicadas)".[4] Tinnitus may be intermittent or continuous: in the latter case, it may be the cause of great distress. In some individuals, the intensity may be changed by shoulder, head, tongue, jaw, or eye movements.[7]
ASD is beginning to be recognised as a legitimate and discreet disorder, and can be readily misdiagnosed as TMD stemming from TMJ dysfunction. From a differential diagnosis perspective, TMJ dysfunction can lead to TTTS symptoms and escalate to TMD. While central pain sensitisation is common with TMD caused by TMJ dysfunction, the aural symptoms do not tend to escalate and hyperacusis is not usually present.
Tinnitus is commonly thought of as a symptom of adulthood, and is often overlooked in children. Children with hearing loss have a high incidence of tinnitus, even though they do not express the condition or its effect on their lives.[112][113] Children do not generally report tinnitus spontaneously and their complaints may not be taken seriously.[114] Among those children who do complain of tinnitus, there is an increased likelihood of associated otological or neurological pathology such as migraine, juvenile Meniere's disease or chronic suppurative otitis media.[115] Its reported prevalence varies from 12% to 36% in children with normal hearing thresholds and up to 66% in children with a hearing loss and approximately 3–10% of children have been reported to be troubled by tinnitus.[116]
Globally, hearing loss affects about 10% of the population to some degree.[50] It caused moderate to severe disability in 124.2 million people as of 2004 (107.9 million of whom are in low and middle income countries).[13] Of these 65 million acquired the condition during childhood.[15] At birth ~3 per 1000 in developed countries and more than 6 per 1000 in developing countries have hearing problems.[15]
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Other potential sources of the sounds normally associated with tinnitus should be ruled out. For instance, two recognized sources of high-pitched sounds might be electromagnetic fields common in modern wiring and various sound signal transmissions. A common and often misdiagnosed condition that mimics tinnitus is radio frequency (RF) hearing, in which subjects have been tested and found to hear high-pitched transmission frequencies that sound similar to tinnitus.[72][73]
Some medications may reversibly affect hearing. These medications are considered ototoxic. This includes loop diuretics such as furosemide and bumetanide, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) both over-the-counter (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen) as well as prescription (celecoxib, diclofenac, etc.), paracetamol, quinine, and macrolide antibiotics.[63] Others may cause permanent hearing loss.[64] The most important group is the aminoglycosides (main member gentamicin) and platinum based chemotherapeutics such as cisplatin and carboplatin.[65][66]
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) developed the ISO 1999 standards for the estimation of hearing thresholds and noise-induced hearing impairment.[104] They used data from two noise and hearing study databases, one presented by Burns and Robinson (Hearing and Noise in Industry, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1970) and by Passchier-Vermeer (1968).[105] As race are some of the factors that can affect the expected distribution of pure-tone hearing thresholds several other national or regional datasets exist, from Sweden,[106] Norway,[107] South Korea,[108] the United States[109] and Spain.[110]
This is a very structured approach to managing tinnitus. Basically, TRT assumes that the tinnitus has been prioritised as an important signal. TRT uses sounds at a particular level to try to reduce the priority of the tinnitus so that you no longer hear it. It is based on the idea that we can get used to sounds, e.g. the sound of the fridge or air conditioner, so we can also get used to this sound of tinnitus. The process of getting used to the tinnitus sound is called habituation. TRT uses sound generators and counselling to attempt to retrain how the brain processes sound so that you habituate to the tinnitus. Most people working in the tinnitus field will use elements of TRT but the strict method is not frequently used because there is limited evidence for its effectiveness.
People who live with tinnitus might have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. In order to sleep well, our bodies and our minds need to be relaxed. Worrying about the tinnitus, or worrying about how much sleep you’re getting (or missing out on), is unhelpful and will only make it more difficult to sleep. Most people with tinnitus sleep well and their tinnitus is no different from those who do not sleep well. People who have tinnitus and sleep poorly tend to worry more at night than people with tinnitus who sleep well. Working through problems during waking hours is better than in the middle of the night when you have nothing else to occupy you.
Tinnitus is usually more noticeable in a quiet environment. It’s a bit like candles on a birthday cake – in the lights, the candles aren’t very bright but if you turn the lights off, the candles seem much brighter. With tinnitus, when there is other sound, it doesn’t seem that loud, but when you turn all the other sound off, the tinnitus seems much more noticeable.

On examination of the affected ear, the ear canal and tympanic membrane generally appear healthy and normal. ASD symptoms are subjective, so an experienced clinician makes a diagnosis on the basis of a thorough case history noting the pattern of symptoms; their onset, persistence and escalation; and their link with exposure to intolerable (or difficult to tolerate) sounds. If they have developed in association with acoustic incident exposure and/or hyperacusis is present, it is likely that they are a result of TTTS. The symptoms are remarkably consistent.
It is not a disease or illness; it is a symptom generated within the auditory system and usually caused by an underlying condition. The noise may be in one or both ears, or it may feel like it is in the head. It is difficult to pinpoint its exact location. It may be low, medium or high pitched and can be heard as a single noise or as multiple components.
Hearing loss is categorized by severity, type, and configuration. Furthermore, a hearing loss may exist in only one ear (unilateral) or in both ears (bilateral). Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent, sudden or progressive. The severity of a hearing loss is ranked according to ranges of nominal thresholds in which a sound must be so it can be detected by an individual. It is measured in decibels of hearing loss, or dB HL. There are three main types of hearing loss: conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss.[15] An additional problem which is increasingly recognised is auditory processing disorder which is not a hearing loss as such but a difficulty perceiving sound. The shape of an audiogram shows the relative configuration of the hearing loss, such as a Carhart notch for otosclerosis, 'noise' notch for noise-induced damage, high frequency rolloff for presbycusis, or a flat audiogram for conductive hearing loss. In conjunction with speech audiometry, it may indicate central auditory processing disorder, or the presence of a schwannoma or other tumor.
Acoustic qualification of tinnitus will include measurement of several acoustic parameters like frequency in cases of monotone tinnitus or frequency range and bandwidth in cases of narrow band noise tinnitus, loudness in dB above hearing threshold at the indicated frequency, mixing-point, and minimum masking level.[52] In most cases, tinnitus pitch or frequency range is between 5 kHz and 10 kHz,[53] and loudness between 5 and 15 dB above the hearing threshold.[54]
Acoustic qualification of tinnitus will include measurement of several acoustic parameters like frequency in cases of monotone tinnitus or frequency range and bandwidth in cases of narrow band noise tinnitus, loudness in dB above hearing threshold at the indicated frequency, mixing-point, and minimum masking level.[52] In most cases, tinnitus pitch or frequency range is between 5 kHz and 10 kHz,[53] and loudness between 5 and 15 dB above the hearing threshold.[54]
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