Tinnitus is often described as a ringing in the ears. It also can sound like roaring, clicking, hissing or buzzing. It may be soft or loud, high-pitched or low-pitched. You might hear it in either one or both ears. Millions of Americans have tinnitus. People with severe tinnitus may have trouble hearing, working or even sleeping.

Causes of tinnitus include:

  • Allergies
  • Anemia
  • Brain tumors (rare)
  • Certain medicines
  • Ear and sinus infections
  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Foreign objects or wax in the ear
  • Hearing loss in older people
  • Heart or blood vessel problems
  • Hormonal changes in women
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Thyroid problems

Alcohol, antibiotics, aspirin, other drugs and caffeine can also cause ear noises.

Source: NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders


Tests that we may perform to diagnose tinnitus include: 

  • Audiology/audiometry to test hearing loss 
  • Blood vessel studies (angiography) 
  • Head CT scan 
  • Head MRI scan

Your OSU Wexner Medical Center specialist will also review your use of prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements.


  • Depending on the cause of your tinnitus, correcting the issue can be as simple as removing ear wax.
  • Medicines can relieve symptoms, but no one drug works as a standard treatment.
  • A hearing aid-like device can help by masking symptoms by emitting low-level sound into the ear.
  • A hearing aid may help increase volume of wanted sounds and decrease volume of ear noise.
  • Communication counseling can help you manage tinnitus.

Why Choose Ohio State

The Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center has been successfully evaluating and treating patients with ear-related issues for decades. Many of our patients are referred to us by local ENTs due to our outstanding reputation.

A dedicated testing staff: We have a dedicated, knowledgeable, highly experienced ancillary staff that conducts our patient hearing testing, which provides a solid base of information to assist with the patient’s diagnosis.

Trained specialists: Among our physicians are a group of neurotologists are skilled in treating all diseases of the ear, medically or surgically. Many of the neurotologists in the state of Ohio are found here.

Nationally ranked: Wexner Medical Center is recognized by U.S.News & World Report one of the nation’s best hospitals for care of the ear, nose and throat.

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