How to Know If You Have Tinnitus

Do you ever hear ringing in your ears? What about roaring, buzzing, or hissing? Do these noises interfere with your daily life, making it difficult for you to relax or sleep? If so, you may have tinnitus, a condition characterized by the hearing of sound when no external sound is present.

Tinnitus is a very common problem, affecting about 1 in 5 people, and if the condition is tampering with your enjoyment of life, do yourself a favor and seek out treatment. To learn more about how tinnitus is affecting your life, take our tinnitus impact survey


If you’re wondering how to know if you have tinnitus, start by evaluating your symptoms. First, do you often hear a sound that you know is not externally present? If so, what is this sound like? Would you describe it as ringing, roaring, clicking, chirping, rushing, whistling, buzzing, hissing, or humming? Or perhaps it sounds like a heartbeat in your ear? The noise may seem to come from one ear, both ears, your head, or a distance. In addition, it can be steady, intermittent, or pulsating.

If you would like to learn more about the various sounds of tinnitus, check out our tinnitus sound samples. These sounds are often more noticeable when background noise is low, so you may find that your tinnitus is more prominent at night as you’re trying to fall asleep or while working in a quiet room. To better assess your condition, consider potential causes and related health conditions:

  • Potential Causes: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by a variety of conditions. For example, certain ototoxic drugs, ear infections, Ménière’s disease, a buildup of earwax, high blood pressure, diabetes, and head and neck injuries are all known to lead to tinnitus.
  • Related Health Conditions: Many people suffering from tinnitus also suffer from hearing loss. Other health conditions associated with tinnitus include sleeping problems, depression, anxiety, hypertension, and hyperacusis (increased sensitivity to certain frequencies of sound and volume ranges). To evaluate your level of hyperacusis, click here.

If you experience these symptoms, no matter what the particular sound, you probably have tinnitus. After all, tinnitus is defined simply as “the hearing of sound when no external sound is present.” However, the presence of tinnitus is not in itself a cause for alarm. You also need to take the symptoms’ frequency and influence into account.


How often do you hear a noise in your head? Is it frequent and frustrating? Does it only occur during (or following) certain situations, like listening to loud music? Most people experience occasional ringing in their ears, but if the condition is temporary and caused by something specific like loud noise, atmospheric pressure, or an illness, treatment is usually unnecessary.

If, on the other hand, you frequently experience the symptoms described above and you have for six months or more, you may have chronic tinnitus. Although not a serious health problem, the condition can be irritating and debilitating.

To find out more about your tinnitus, take our tinnitus impact survey.


If you have chronic tinnitus, consider how your hearing condition affects your life. It may have a significant impact on your well-being, influencing your mood, your anxiety, your sleeping habits, your ability to concentrate, and more. To better assess your particular situation, ask yourself some simple questions:

  • Does your tinnitus interfere with your enjoyment of life? 
  • Does your tinnitus interfere with your sleep?
  • Does your tinnitus make it hard for you to relax? 
  • Does your tinnitus make you feel irritated?
  • Over the past week, have you been bothered by your tinnitus for more than 50% of your waking hours?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should visit our page about home remedies for tinnitus relief. If those tips don’t do the trick, you would most likely benefit from a tinnitus evaluation. You will undergo an audiological (hearing) exam, and your audiologist may recommend further testing depending on the suspected cause of your tinnitus. Every case features different symptoms, causes, and frustrations, so it is important that you work with your audiologist to create a treatment plan that fits your needs and concerns.

Even if you answered no to the questions above, a hearing test would be worthwhile. By discussing your tinnitus symptoms with an audiologist and having your hearing checked, you can learn more about what is causing the issue and review potential treatment options.

Finally, if you’re wondering how to know if you have tinnitus or another hearing-related issue, please contact the Sound Relief Hearing Center if you live in or around Denver, Colorado. We provide tinnitus treatment, hearing tests, invisible hearing aids, and more. To learn more about us, please browse our website, visit our Youtube channel, or give us a call at 720-344-7600. You can also schedule an appointment online to meet with one of our tinnitus specialists or audiologists. We look forward to hearing from you!


At Sound Relief Tinnitus & Hearing Center, we provide hope and help to those living with tinnitus and other hearing health issues. Our patients are at the center of everything we do, and we strive to guide them to overcome their challenges by delivering innovative and compassionate healthcare.

Dr. Julie Prutsman, owner of this family-owned practice, has expanded to 9 locations across Colorado and Arizona. In 2012, she founded Sound Relief in her hometown of Highlands Ranch, Colorado and continues to foster their mission through mentorship of the brightest minds in the field of Audiology.