Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the ears or head not caused by an external sound source. Ringing and buzzing sounds may be heard in one or both ears or appear to be generally in the head region but can be variable and difficult to decide exactly where it seems to be. The sound can also be described as hissing, screeching, whooshing, pulsing, or buzzing. This condition is quite common, affecting almost 15% of adults.
There are 2 types of tinnitus: subjective tinnitus, the most common type, and objective tinnitus, which is much rarer.
The volume or loudness is very individual and can range from very quiet to disturbingly loud. Although some people say that it comes and goes or as a tone that changes pitch through the day. For most it is a steady, unchanging noise every waking minute.It’s not an illness or a disease in itself, but it is often a symptom of a problem with the ear or the hearing pathways to the brain. Usually, it occurs when the inner ear is damaged or impaired in some way. For those experiencing this condition, it is important to remember that tinnitus itself is a symptom of a problem rather than the problem itself, just as a headache can be a symptom of many different illnesses.
To effectively treat or manage this condition, identifying the underlying cause is the first step. Some causes, such as excess earwax buildup, hypertension and stress, anemia, or overconsumption of caffeine or cigarettes, can be treated or eliminated relatively easily.
Tinnitus is not a disease itself or a cause of hearing loss. It is a symptom that something is wrong somewhere in the auditory system, which can include the cochlea of the inner ear, the auditory nerve and the areas of the brain that process sound. In about 90% of cases, it accompanies hearing loss and an individual can have both hearing loss and tinnitus from noise damage. However the two do not always occur together. It is possible to have no measurable hearing loss but suffer from the condition.
Some of the most common causes include:
Identifying the underlying cause is the first step. Some causes, such as excess earwax buildup, hypertension and stress, anemia, or overconsumption of caffeine or cigarettes, can be treated or eliminated relatively easily.