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Tinnitus is a term used to describe the condition of hearing sounds with an absence of an outside source. It is often referred to as “ringing in the ears,” although tinnitus may also manifest as humming, buzzing, thumping, or grinding sounds.

Since tinnitus is associated with hearing, audiometry with tympanometry are the primary baselines of tinnitus evaluation and treatment.

Common Symptoms of Tinnitus 

The first sign of tinnitus is usually experiencing a noise in the ears like ringing, buzzing, roaring, hissing, or whistling. These noises may be continuous or intermittent and is most often subjective, which means that only the person experiencing it can hear it.

Classifications of Tinnitus 

Tinnitus sounds different to each person, which is why there are four different types of tinnitus:

Subjective Tinnitus

This is the most common form of tinnitus, only being heard by the affected individual. Subjective tinnitus is usually caused by exposure to excessively loud sounds. This type of tinnitus can appear erratically, lasting 3-12 months at a time. In severe cases, tinnitus may never stop.

Neurological Tinnitus

This type of tinnitus is usually caused by an underlying medical condition that primarily affects the brain’s auditory functions. Meniere’s disease is usually linked to neurological tinnitus.

Somatic Tinnitus

Somatic tinnitus is generally related to the sensory system. This type of tinnitus is caused, worsened, or associated with problems in the sensory system.

Objective Tinnitus

This is a very rare form of tinnitus caused by vascular deformities or involuntary muscle contractions. When the cause is treated, the tinnitus usually stops entirely. This is the only form of tinnitus that can be heard by an outside observer, and the only type that has the potential for a permanent fix.

Common Causes of Tinnitus 


Did you know that more than 200 medicines, including aspirin, can cause tinnitus? Drug-induced tinnitus may or may not be permanent. In most cases, tinnitus caused by taking certain drugs is temporary and clears away a few days or weeks after ceasing intake.

Loud Noise

Sudden or prolonged exposure to loud noise can cause tinnitus. Continued exposure to noises at dangerously high decibels can make tinnitus worse and may lead to hearing loss.

Other Potential Causes

Ear abnormalities, allergies, abnormal pressure in the ear, problems in the arteries, jaws, and neck can also cause tinnitus. Knowing the underlying problem of tinnitus can greatly determine the treatment route.

Tinnitus Evaluations 

Tinnitus evaluations start off with a thorough medical history check, head and neck examinations, and audiometric testing to determine an underlying etiology. Pulsatile or unilateral tinnitus may be linked to a more serious medical condition and may need additional audiometric testing and radiologic exams.

Norfolk Audiology performs tests to help get a baseline of how a patient hears tinnitus sounds. These tests include loudness match testing, pitch match testing, and tinnitus questionnaires.

Tinnitus Evaluations at Norfolk Audiology

At the start of your tinnitus evaluation, we will conduct a THI (tinnitus handicap inventory) and a case history. Since there are various causes of tinnitus, the information we gather can help determine if your family medical history might be contributing to your condition. Knowing the medical background of a patient is a very important part of tinnitus evaluations because allergies, ear infections, head cold, or impacted earwax can trigger tinnitus. Any recent trauma to the ears or head may also cause ringing in the ears.

Tinnitus Treatments

The treatment approach for tinnitus will depend on the underlying cause. Since there is no exact cure for tinnitus yet, the treatment plan will focus on managing the symptoms to provide relief for the patient. 

Hearing Aids

A big percentage of patients with tinnitus have been diagnosed with some degree of hearing loss. There are hearing aids for tinnitus that offer a dual benefit of enhancing hearing and masking up tinnitus noises.


Tinnitus maskers are small wearable devices that look very similar to hearing aids or personal sound amplification devices. They are created to generate sounds or white noises that can cover up the tinnitus. Take note that unlike hearing aids for tinnitus, maskers cannot enhance or compensate hearing and if not programmed properly, it may interfere with speech understanding.


Some tinnitus patients, especially those who are experiencing severe symptoms of tinnitus, develop stress, anxiety, or depression. In this case, certain medicines may offer relief from emotional distress and offer some level of calm and relaxation. Medications usually go hand in hand with counseling learning relaxation techniques and lifestyle changes.

Tinnitus Prevention 

Although there are various causes of tinnitus, there are preventative measures you can take to lower the likelihood of experiencing tinnitus. 

Below are some tips to lessen your chance of getting tinnitus: 

Protect your ears. 

Exposure to loud noises over time can damage your hearing. If you need to be around a lot of loud noises, use soft earplugs. If the noise is going to be particularly loud, add another layer of protection like earmuffs.

Stay away from extremely loud sounds.

If you are going to a concert, it’s best to book seats further away from the speakers. The further away you are from the noise, the safer your ears will be. You can also help protect your ears by taking breaks from the noise by walking away from it occasionally.

Limit time spent around loud sounds. 

Noise can lead to tinnitus over time if you are exposed to it for a long time. This will vary depending on how loud the noise is, but be aware of it and try to limit your exposure if possible.

Use caution with earbuds. 

You need to set your headphones and earbuds to lower volumes in order to protect your hearing. This is because if the volume is too high, you can damage your hearing and get tinnitus (a ringing sound in your ears). Noise cancelingheadphones can help you hear at a lower volume since they will dampen any interfering noises. To test the volume, have a friend stand next to you and see if they can hear sound from your earbuds/headphones. If they can, then the volume is too high.

Protect your heart. 

Heart health is important for preventing tinnitus. Disorders of the blood vessels can lead to tinnitus, so it is important to keep them healthy with exercise and a good diet. Staying healthy can also prevent your need to use certain medications that can cause tinnitus. There are many reasons to keep your body healthy with a diet and exercise regimen.

Take it easy. 

People with tinnitus, or a tendency to experience tinnitus, can help relieve or prevent it by managing their stress. Stress can cause muscle contractions which can make the sounds of tinnitus worse. Stress can be managed by using relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, relaxing with friends and family, taking a walk, or by doing a hobby or activity that you enjoy. Having a relaxing outlet is healthy not only for tinnitus, but for other illnesses and pains you may be suffering from. 

Check your head posture. 

If you want to avoid getting tinnitus, it is important to have good posture. This will help keep your neck healthy and prevent injuries that could lead to tinnitus. If you already have tinnitus, try different head and neck postures to see if one makes the noise go away.

Tinnitus Diagnostics and Treatment in Norfolk, NE 

Norfolk Audiology offers comprehensive tinnitus evaluations to ensure that you are getting the correct treatment for your tinnitus. We believe that through accurate tinnitus evaluations, tinnitus can be managed and affected individuals can live a better and healthier life.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

Learn more about how we can help.

We offer solutions that include hearing aids, assistive devices, aural rehabilitation, tinnitus treatment, and custom hearing protection.