What is Tinnitus

The Associated Audiologists team features professionals who have advanced training and experience in caring for patients with severe tinnitus. Susan E. Smittkamp, Au.D., Ph.D. sees patients with this condition in our Shawnee Mission clinic.

About Tinnitus

Tinnitus is the perception of sound when no external sound source is present. Tinnitus can take on any number of characteristics and is usually a sound that only you can hear. You can experience tinnitus that varies from soft to loud and from low to high pitch. Individuals describe their tinnitus in a number of ways, including a buzzing, clicking, ringing, white noise, and/or roaring sound. Although these descriptions are typical, there are no specific rules about how tinnitus is perceived. Each person’s experience can be different. Sound sensitivity is reduced tolerance to everyday sounds that are generally tolerated easily by most individuals. This can include sensitivity to louder sounds (hyperacusis) or softer sounds (misophonia, selective sound sensitivity, phonophobia).

According to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), tinnitus is one of the most common health conditions in the United States, affecting approximately 45 million Americans to some degree. An estimated 20 million have symptoms severe enough that they seek medical attention, and approximately 2 million cannot function “normally” on a day-to-day basis. Hyperacusis occurs in an estimated 7.7 to 15 percent of Americans. The prevalence of misophonia and phonophobia is unknown.

Learn More About the Causes of Tinnitus and How to Manage It