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What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the term used for noises or sounds that are heard in one or both ears or in the head, which do not come from an external source. They are often described as a high-pitched ringing but can also be described as a buzzing, hissing, pulsing, whistling, roaring, or various other sounds. Tinnitus can be very mild and only noticeable in a quiet room/bedtime, or it can become extremely loud and annoying to the point where the sufferer hears nothing else. It can be present all the time, can be intermittent, and/or pulsing. The loudness of the tinnitus often varies in intensity depending on several factors such as stress, diet, noise exposure, etc. Tinnitus, like chronic pain, is subjective. Two people may report similar characteristics yet be affected in a significantly different manner. The severity of the tinnitus is largely a function of the individual reaction to/or perception of the tinnitus. Many tinnitus sufferers have difficulty sleeping and/or concentrating, and many can be depressed.  What adds to the challenges faced by tinnitus sufferers is the lack of knowledge, support, and options available to them.  The phrase “learn to live with it” is still heard far too often by those that seek help for their tinnitus.

What Causes Tinnitus?

The exact mechanism underlying tinnitus, what it is and where it is, is unknown fully but research continues around the world. Current research suggests that for the most part tinnitus is the result of deprivation of auditory input to the auditory center in the brain resulting in increased central neuronal firing, which is perceived as tinnitus.  There are other causes of tinnitus included in the list below.

  • Disorders in the outer ear such as excessive ear wax (cerumen), a foreign body, perforated eardrum, etc. Often removal of the problem (wax, etc.) will relieve the tinnitus.
  • Disorders in the middle ear such as an ear infection, otosclerosis, or a benign tumor.
  • Disorders in the inner ear such as damage due to noise exposure, presbycusis (age related hearing loss), and Menière’s Disease, which is also accompanied by episodic dizziness, nausea, ear pressure, and fluctuating hearing loss. Noise exposure is the leading cause of tinnitus and is very preventable with the use of hearing protectors.
  • Trauma to the head or neck, such as concussion or whiplash, can cause long-lasting tinnitus.
  • Certain medications can cause tinnitus. They include anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and quinine, some sedatives and antidepressants, and certain antibiotics and chemotherapeutic agents including furosemide, cisplatin, streptomycin, neomycin, and kanamycin.
  • Drug interactions can lead to tinnitus.  
  • One of the most difficult causes of tinnitus to diagnose is a vestibular schwannoma (acoustic neuroma) which is a small tumor pressing on the vestibular nerve leading from the cochlea to the brain. Tinnitus may be the only initial symptom.
  • Various other causes such as high or low blood pressure, diabetes, vascular disorders, temporomandibular (jaw-joint) disorders, allergies, syphilis, and thyroid dysfunction.

Although most people with tinnitus have an associated hearing loss, the presence of tinnitus does not mean that one has decreased hearing.  However, it is important to understand that a normal hearing test does not mean the individual has no auditory damage.  This is known as a hidden hearing loss.


Always remember that tinnitus is a symptom of a problem, so referral to a doctor or audiologist is always recommended.

Sound Sensitivity

  • Misophonia Misophonia is a disorder by which certain sounds trigger emotional or physiological responses that some might perceive as unreasonable given the circumstances. Some examples of these sounds are loud chewing or heavy breathing. To learn more, go to

  • Hyperacusis An abnormal sensitivity to sounds resulting in pain or discomfort. You may also experience tinnitus and a fluttering sensation in your ears.

  • Phonophobia Phonophobia is defined as a persistent, abnormal, and unwarranted fear of sound. Often, these are normal environmental sounds (e.g., traffic, kitchen sounds, doors closing, or even loud speech) that cannot under any circumstances be damaging.

What To Do?

Although there may be no cause/cure for tinnitus, it can often be successfully managed. There are various treatments available, and they do not always work for everyone.


Our audiologists will do a thorough examination of your ears and test your hearing to further gather details and information regarding your tinnitus and hearing health history. The audiologist will then design a personalized treatment plan that can often include hearing aids, the use of bedtime maskers, white noise devices and tinnitus retraining therapy.


If you wish to find out more about tinnitus and the services we offer, feel free to contact our dedicated team of hearing care professionals.


See links below To learn more about Tinnitus: (American Tinnitus Association) › tinnitus › drc-20350162

(Tinnitus - Diagnosis and treatment - Mayo Clinic) › health › tinnitus

(What Is Tinnitus? — Causes and Treatment | NIDCD) (Tinnitus [Ringing in the Ears] Causes and Definition – WebMD) (Alliance Tinnitus and Hearing Center, Atlanta, Ga) (Dr. Stephen Nagler) (Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Center, London, England) (Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Center, Atlanta, Ga) (Dr. P. Jastreboff) (Canadian Academy of Audiology) (Canadian Association of SLP’s and Audiologists)


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Hearing and Tinnitus Evaluations

Argus Audiology is a hearing service centre that proudly provides hearing and tinnitus evaluations. We specialize in sound therapy and tinnitus management.


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What Is a Hearing Test?

Hearing tests are always performed by our audiologists and the test provides a measurement of your ability to hear different sounds, pitches, and frequencies. The hearing test will take place in a soundproof room and your hearing results are recorded on an audiogram. Once your hearing test is complete, our audiologists will then thoroughly go over your results and answer any questions or concerns you might have.


This audiometric evaluation is non-invasive, painless and the test carries no associated risks. You do not need a medical referral to be proactive about your hearing health. Call one of our four clinics to have your hearing tested today.

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