What is Tinnitus?


Tinnitus is noise that originates, internally, within the ear rather than from the external environment and may affect one or both ears.

Who Is Affected?

Tinnitus may affect anyone although it is more common with increasing age. Hardening of the arteries also increases the risk. Additionally, frequent exposure to noisy environments also increases the risk for developing tinnitus. There are, however, many causes for tinnitus.

  • It is a common problem that affects about 17 percent of the general population around the world.
  • It may be associated with hearing loss.
  • The noises related to tinnitus can appear to be extremely loud to the affected person and they are also described as unpleasant, annoying , depressing and soul-destroying. This can lead to the sufferer having difficulty in coping with daily life and, in more serious cases, it affects the sufferers quality of life.
  • There are numerous causes and many cases result from the occurrence of other underlying disorders such as blockage of the ear canal, Meniere’s disease, ear infections, etc.
  • It is important to diagnose and treat any possible, underlying, disorders as this may have a beneficial effect on the tinnitus symptoms.

What Are the Symptoms of Tinnitus?

Sufferers have been described the sounds that they hear as: –

  • Ringing
  • Buzzing
  • Whistling
  • Whooshing
  • Humming
  • Running water

There are several types: –

  • Tinnitus in which the sound is a ringing, buzzing, roaring, whistling, or hissing noise.
  • Pulsatile tinnitus, in which the tinnitus sounds are intermittent, or pulsating in time with the heartbeat.
  • Tonal tinnitus is often called “ringing in the ears.” Producing a continuous sound, like a single note that is on an endless loop.

There are also less common forms tinnitus, where the sufferer can hear beeping, tapping, or musical notes. An even less common produces a variety of different noises simultaneously.

In addition to the noises associated with this ailment, certain other symptoms may accompany this condition. These include: –

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Pain in the ear
  • A sense of fullness in the ears

Although it is not typically a serious condition it is often accompanied by hearing loss. However, tinnitus does not cause deafness.

The psychological effects of tinnitus, on some sufferers, can lead them to question whether they have a mental illness, or even a brain tumour. These conditions are rarely found in cases of tinnitus and, although possible, are highly unlikely. However, long term tinnitus, as with any long term illness, can cause depression.