Tinnitus in America - Hearing Services of Santa Barbara

Ringing in the ear, or tinnitus, is a widespread condition that affects an estimated 50 million Americans. Some people describe it as a hissing, roaring, whooshing or buzzing sound instead of ringing. It may be sporadic or constant, and is a symptom of an underlying condition rather than a disease itself. There are many factors that can cause tinnitus.

Types & Causes

Tinnitus is categorized as being either pulsatile or nonpulsatile. People who suffer from pulsatile tinnitus report hearing the sound of their own pulse. It is caused by abnormal blood flow within the arteries of the neck or inside the ear, and is fairly rare. Possible causes include fluid in the middle ear, ear infections, high blood pressure, head and neck tumors or blocked arteries.

Nonpulsatile tinnitus – ringing in the ears not accompanied by any type of rhythm – is considerably more common. It can be caused by a variety of conditions including presbycusis (age-related hearing loss), noise exposure, impacted earwax and otosclerosis (stiffening of the bones in the middle ear). Other causes that are less common include Meniere’s disease, TMJ disorders, ototoxic medications, thyroid conditions, head or neck trauma and acoustic neuromas.

Tinnitus is also classified as being either subjective (heard only by the patient) or objective (ringing can be heard by an impartial observer, such as a doctor). Most cases of tinnitus are subjective in nature.


To better support our patients with tinnitus, our team is proud to announce that we offer LEVO by Otoharmonics…

The LEVO system includes an Apple® iPad Air™ pre-installed with the proprietary LEVO Manager software. Easy to learn and easy to navigate, the LEVO Manager is an interactive tool that can be used side-by-side with patients. The comprehensive software is designed to identify and map each individual’s tinnitus sounds, create personalized therapy and track patient improvement over time. The user-friendly LEVO software allows patients to listen to their personalized sound match therapy on an Apple® iPod touch™.