If you know that a brain tumor can cause tinnitus in only one ear, you’ll want to be able to tell if your tinnitus is in one ear or both.
You may want to know this even if you’re not all that worried about a serious cause.
But is there a way you, at home, can tell if your tinnitus is coming from one ear or both?
“Tinnitus can be classified as subjective or objective,” says Rivka Strom, AuD, CCC-A, Director of Audiology, Advanced Hearing NY Inc.
“Subjective tinnitus is an annoying sensation of hearing sound when there is no external sound present; this cannot be heard by an observer,” explains Strom.
“Since it is purely one’s perception, only that individual can be the one reporting whether it is heard in one ear or both. Some report hearing it in their head rather than in their ears.” bilateral unilateral
An audiologist or any other kind of doctor, then, is not capable of determining if a patient’s tinnitus is coming from both ears or just one.
However, there is also no technical way—other than subjective experience—that a person at home can make the distinction. bilateral unilateral
All you can do is try to figure it out when you’re in a quiet environment. It may be that the tinnitus is being heard in both ears, but most of it is being heard in one ear.
Some people can give a percentage estimate, e.g., 70 percent of it is in one ear and 30 percent of it is in the other.
If you have new-onset tinnitus, it will be more difficult at first to tell if it’s coming from both ears or one, but as time goes on, it’s likely that you’ll be able to determine if it’s bilateral or unilateral.
And remember, the sound that “comes” from your ears is really being created in the auditory center of your brain – but due to a problem inside the ear.
It’s an illusion that the humming, hissing, buzzing or tinkling is coming from inside the ear canal.
“In cases of objective tinnitus, an examiner can actually listen and hear the sounds the patient hears,” says Strom. These cases are rare, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery.
The brain tumor that can cause unilateral tinnitus is called an acoustic neuroma.
Dr. Strom is a member of the American Speech Language and Hearing Association and has received several awards including Brooklyn College’s Excellence In Audiology Award.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.