What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus happens when we consciously hear a sound that does not come from any source outside the body. It is not a disease, but a symptom of an underlying problem.
The noise is usually subjective, meaning that only the person who has tinnitus can hear it. The most common form is a steady, high-pitched ringing. This can be annoying, but it does not usually indicate a serious condition.
In fewer than 1 percent of cases, it may be objective. This means that other people can hear the noise. This type of noise may be caused by cardiovascular or musculoskeletal movements in the person’s body.
Fast facts on what is tinnitus
Here are some key points about tinnitus.
- Around 50 million people experience some form of tinnitus (source American Medical)
- Most tinnitus is due to damage to the cochlea, or inner ear.
- Certain medications can cause or worsen tinnitus, for example, aspirin, particularly in large doses.
- People with tinnitus may be over-sensitive to loud noise.
- Most people learn to live with tinnitus, but help is available for those who find this difficult.
Tinnitus is a non-auditory, internal sound that can be intermittent or continuous, in one or both ears, and either low- or high-pitched.
The varying sounds have been described as whistling, chirping, clicking, screeching, hissing, static, roaring, buzzing, pulsing, whooshing, or musical.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Prolonged exposure to loud sounds is the most common cause of tinnitus. Carpenters, pilots, rock musicians, street-repair workers, and landscapers are among those whose jobs put them at risk, as are people who work with chainsaws, guns, or other loud devices or who repeatedly listen to loud music. A single exposure to a sudden extremely loud noise can also cause tinnitus.
There are effective ways to treat tinnitus, but before you can even start, it is advisable to get an independent assessment carried out before you can start.