Are Your Ears Whistling & Buzzing?

By Dr. Dennis Burrows, Ph.D., CCC-A – Executive Director, Audiologist


Ludwig Van Beethoven, famed music composer and pianist once said “only my ears whistle and buzz continuously day and night. I can say I am living a wretched life.”  For some who suffer from tinnitus they understand fully what the famed composer meant.

Tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. It is a common problem and affects 15-20% of the population. Tinnitus is not a disease but rather a symptom of an underlying condition such as age-related or noise induced hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder. Most often, it is a symptom of hearing loss but can also be caused by medications or more serious medical conditions.

Tinnitus is often described as ringing, buzzing, crickets, and hissing and is normally steady and does not change in pitch. It will occasionally change in intensity and is associated, most often, with noise exposure and blood pressure changes.

Tinnitus, however, may be the first symptom of a disorder requiring medical attention. If the tinnitus pulses or is coincident with a fullness feeling in the ear, dizziness, headaches, or visual disturbances it is important to speak with your physician.

Unfortunately, tinnitus is frequently caused by excessive noise exposure. Shooting guns, loud music (with or without earphones), power tools, factory machinery, and lawn equipment are examples of noise exposure that can damage your hearing and bring on a 24/7 lifetime of “whistling and buzzing”.

Wear hearing protection when exposed to loud noise and if your tinnitus pulses seek medical attention.