Tinnitus is a condition when a noise is heard in the ears or head without any external noise. It is often intermittent and most of us will have experienced brief spells of tinnitus after prolonged loud music. The noise may vary from a low frequency hum to a high frequency whistle and often varies in pitch. Most patients find that environmental noise drowns out (masks) their tinnitus so it only becomes troublesome in quiet surroundings, often at night. The irritation of tinnitus can be severe but with correct management it should be possible to control it. Often the anxiety that something else is causing the tinnitus makes the symptoms worse so thorough examination and investigation is needed to allow treatment to be effective.

Sometimes a pulsing noise is heard in the ear which is termed pulsatile tinnitus and may need further investigation, though it is rarely a symptom of any underlying sinister condition.


An audiogram (hearing test) is the most useful investigation and may bring to light a difference in hearing between the two ears or evidence of some damage to the hearing. Tinnitus or hearing loss affecting only one ear needs further investigation by an ENT surgeon which may include a MRI scan to rule out a rare benign tumour of the auditory nerve.


The main treatment of tinnitus is through reassurance and counselling to help ‘tune out’ the tinnitus. This will often involve having some quiet sound to listen to so that the focus of the brain is taken away from the tinnitus. Somtimes more in-depth treatment is necessary with Tinnitus Retraining Therapy which our Hearing Therapy colleagues can offer. They may occasionally consider a ‘White Noise Generator’ to help mask the tinnitus.

If the tinnitus is associated with hearing loss hearing aids may help to increase the level of external sounds and ‘mask’ the tinnitus. It is rare to need medication but this can sometimes help if sleep is disturbed.

Click to open the Tinnitus website

The North Hampshire ENT Partnership is a team of consultants specialising in a wide spectrum of diseases and disorders that affect the Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) including snoring and sleep disorders, cosmetic and skin surgery.


Our surgeons provide specialist care by drawing from the 50 plus years of combined NHS experience and the many areas of individual specialist expertise available within the partnership.


Pay now