Types Of Tinnitus – What Kind Of Tinnitus Do You Have?

Tinnitus can be divided into several different types, subjective and objective. Each type of this condition which is actually a symptom of an underlying problem, has its own set of defining characteristics. The primary difference between the two types of tinnitus is how the noises which those who have this problem are perceived.

Subjective Tinnitus

With subjective tinnitus, the person who has it is the only one who hears the noise which is being caused by some underlying problem. This particular type of tinnitus can be especially frustrating because there is no external cause for the noise being heard and can therefore be difficult to treat or get rid of. The sounds which people who have subjective tinnitus hear can vary, along with the severity/loudness of the noises. Those who have even mild tinnitus can become distracted in their everyday life, especially when trying to sleep.


Before a person can be diagnosed with subjective tinnitus, a number of auditory tests are run in an effort to determine whether or not the person has this problem. A complete case history of the patient is taken as well as various blood tests and a history of any medication abuse, both past and present. An MRI or CAT scan may also be run in order to definitively diagnose someone with this type of tinnitus.


Tinnitus is a condition which is closely associated with exposure to loud noises over a long period of time, especially music which is often listened to through in-ear style headphones. There are other things which can cause tinnitus in a person, including toxic reactions to certain medications as well as closed head injuries and auto-immune disorders. Certain emotional or social conditions such as anger, depression, insomnia, and anxiety can worsen the noise that is associated with tinnitus.

Objective Tinnitus

This type of tinnitus is characterized by certain noises which can be heard both by the person who perceives them as well as doctors and others who are able to listen carefully enough. The primary difference between objective tinnitus and subjective tinnitus is that the sounds which are associated with these conditions can be heard by others, even if they do not have an external cause.


A number of tests can be run on someone to determine what the cause of their tinnitus is, though determining which type the person has is somewhat easier. By simply listening carefully to the patient and using the proper instruments, a doctor or clinician may be able to hear the noise that the patient perceives. If this is the case, the person is said to have objective tinnitus because the noise can be perceived by others.


There are a number of possible causes for objective tinnitus, including muscular abnormalities, abnormal large blood vessels in the ears, middle ear space tumors, spastic movements of the palatal muscles, and temporal bone fractures. Other contributing factors to objective tinnitus include high blood pressure along with hypothyroidism and a narrowing of the carotid artery walls.

Categories of Tinnitus

  • Acute tinnitus: This type of tinnitus can last up to three months or up to 12 months in which case it is referred to as being “sub-acute”.
  • Chronic tinnitus:  Those who have chronic tinnitus can experience problems with it for up to 12 months and it is usually associated with very loud noises which can be extremely severe and in some cases deafening.
  • Compensated tinnitus: With this type of tinnitus, those who have it manage to lead perfectly normal lives and their quality of life is not limited or inhibited.
  • Chronically Complex/Uncompensated tinnitus: This type of tinnitus can cause the quality of life for the person who has it to become severely lessened and disturbed because of the extreme nature of the condition.