Tinnitus is a condition that causes noise in a person's ears or head. It can be one sound or many and can come and go or be continuous. It can also vary in pitch or loudness.

Each person experiences tinnitus differently.

Tinnitus is the symptom of other issues, possibly damage to the hearing system or blood vessel issues, and might indicate the loss of hearing. Seeing an ENT or otologist/neurotologist for further testing will determine what type of tinnitus you may have and how to treat it.

Objective Tinnitus

This type of tinnitus can be heard by the patient and the doctor. During an examination, the doctor may hear noise when listening in your ear canal with certain devices. This noise comes from muscle contractions or twitching of the stapedius or tensor tympani, muscles within the middle ear, or in the Eustachian tube and palate.

A doctor may also hear vascular or pulsatile tinnitus, when the heartbeat is loud enough for patients to hear in their heads. This condition can occur from an increased blood flow during stressful situations or extreme exercising. The blood vessels in the middle ear create a pounding sound that continues for a long time or gets louder over time.

Subjective Tinnitus

This type of tinnitus is heard just by the patient and can have many causes – damage from loud noise, genetics, medications, smoking, age, stress and other factors.

All types of tinnitus affect the automatic nervous system and vary in levels of annoyance. It is a condition that can greatly affect emotional and physical well-being.

Evaluation and Treatment

Seeing a specialist and receiving the right treatment for your tinnitus will help you deal with this condition. Learn how UMMC's Hearing and Balance Center diagnoses and treats tinnitus with our Tinnitus Treatment Program.

Patient Stories

Learn more about patients who received treatment at UMMC's Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Program.

  • Pam Linnemann: Realtor's Tinnitus Under Control After Visiting UMMC Tinnitus Center
  • Brandon Loftus: Getting Loudness Discomfort Levels (LDLs) Under Control
  • Nancy C.: Tinnitus Patient Finds Treatment to Help Regain Control of Her Life. (Under Ear Nose and Throat, Patient Stories

For More Information

Take our Tinnitus Handicap Inventory to determine how tinnitus is affecting you.

For more information about the Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Program, please e-mail tinnitus@smail.umaryland.edu or call 410-328-5947.