I'm not sure this is Tinnitus?

(From a reader in the USA)

Once a week or so, I experience a low pitched tone in my ear. It is localized to either ear. Occasionally it is accompanied by a small degree of pain. I have never really been in a place where major hearing damage can occur, though I do live by a military base, so there are numerous jets flying about. However, again, this is not enough to cause hearing damage. This has been going on for as long as I can remember, however, seeing as how there are no adverse side effects, I have not contacted a physician about this. The tone lasts for a minute or so and then fades away. Any ideas on what it might be if it is not tinnitus?

Comments for I'm not sure this is Tinnitus?

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Apr 17, 2012
Tinnitus is a subjective experience
by: Sarinne

If it's quiet enough, anyone with normal hearing can hear sounds in his/her ears. It's analogous to the faint "hum" of a stereo amplifier -- it's the sound of the circuitry itself. If hearing damage has occurred, the sound is perceived as being louder. Usually it is only called tinnitus if the sound is bothersome to the person hearing it. What is annoying and intrusive to one person may be hardly noticeable to another, so it's a subjective judgment. In other words, YOU get to decide whether to call it tinnitus!

The hearing circuitry can also react to a temporary noise exposure, even if no hearing damage has occurred -- this is the aural counterpart of an afterimage in the visual system, for example after seeing a bright flash of light or staring at the same picture for a long time.

I occasionally hear odd little bloops and "shhh" sounds; they come and go and, like you, I don't experience any adverse effects from them so I consider them a curiosity and otherwise ignore them.

If you want to find out what's going on in your case, of course you'll need to see a doctor or an audiologist, who will be able to test your hearing and tell you whether you have hearing loss. (Most people with tinnitus also have some hearing loss.)

Maybe others can jump in with their comments about noises they hear in their ears, whether it bothers them, and whether they have consulted a doctor about it.

-- Sarinne from Noise Help

Dec 10, 2012
Is it Tinnitus?
by: Nikita

Even I have had a similar experience. But I cannot confirm if its Tinnitus. I do not listen to loud music or any such noise. If it is Tinnitus, I wonder what could be the reason.

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