While the blanket term "ringing in the ear" gives the impression that everyone experiences the condition the same way, in reality, tinnitus perception can vary. Sounds you may hear can be diverse, including hissing, roaring, buzzing, or clicking.

For some people, tinnitus is barely noticeable, while it can become almost debilitating for others. Although scientists have a good understanding of the types and possible causes of tinnitus, there is no known cure for it, however, there are effective ways to manage this symptom.
Before we go into detail about the various tinnitus types, let's touch on what causes tinnitus in the first place. 

What are the most common causes of tinnitus?

Tinnitus is not a disease; it is a symptom of an underlying health condition. Hearing loss from noise-exposure and age-related hearing loss are the two most common causes of tinnitus. It is important to get your ears checked by a hearing care professional. Hearing care professionals can determine if your auditory system is damaged or if there are other possible causes for your hearing troubles. A referral to an Ear-Nose and Throat (ENT) or a Physician for a medical investigation might be needed.
Here are some of the most common causes are:  
  • Earwax buildup
  • Certain prescription drugs
  • Exposure to excessively loud noise
  • Jaw joint dysfunction (TMJ)
  • Chronic neck muscle strain
  • Cardiovascular disease
The main types of tinnitus include subjective tinnitus and objective tinnitus.
Subjective tinnitus
Of all the different types, this is the most common form. It is generally a consequence of loud noise exposure or age-related hearing loss. If you have subjective tinnitus, you are the only person who can hear the sounds.

In mild cases, subjective tinnitus disappears quickly. For some, it comes and goes with varying lengths and intensities. Severe cases can last from six months to twelve months, sometimes even longer. When internal noises overpower external sounds, your ability to concentrate can suffer. 

If hearing loss is associated with your tinnitus, hearing aids with tinnitus maskers are recommended. Hearing aids improve your communication and often reduce tinnitus symptoms.
Objective tinnitus
Objective tinnitus affects much fewer people. It is a rare form caused by vascular deformities or involuntary muscle contractions. The good news is that when doctors manage to treat the underlying cause, the sounds in the ear can go away.

The big difference between subjective and objective tinnitus is that the objective form can be heard by people other than the affected person. Furthermore, this is the only type that can potentially be fixed in its entirety.

Other types of tinnitus

Pulsatile tinnitus
This type of ear ringing is unique in the sense that it aligns with the heartbeat. One of the most common reasons for its development is a change in blood flow to the vessels located near the ears. Another possible cause is increased awareness of blood flow to the ear. 
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. You should not use the information as a substitute for, nor should it replace, professional medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.