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Published on: 13 May 2015

Tinnitus

Tinnitus ("TIN-a-tus" or "Tin-EYE-tus") refers to "ringing in the ears" when no other sound is present.

Tinnitus

Tinnitus can sound like hissing, roaring, pulsing, whooshing, chirping, whistling, or clicking. Tinnitus can occur in one ear or both ears. Below are some commonly asked questions about tinnitus:

  • Is tinnitus a common problem?
    Yes. Almost everyone at one time or another has experienced brief periods of mild ringing or other sounds in the ear. Some people have more annoying and constant types of tinnitus. One third of all adults experience tinnitus at some time in their lives. About 10%–15% of adults have prolonged tinnitus requiring medical evaluation. The exact cause of tinnitus is often not known. One thing is certain: Tinnitus is not imaginary.
     
  • Is tinnitus a disease?
    No. Just as fever or headache accompanies many different illnesses, tinnitus is a symptom common to many problems. If you have tinnitus, chances are the cause may remain a mystery.
     
  • What causes tinnitus?
    Conditions that might cause tinnitus include: Hearing loss, Ménière's disease, Loud noise exposure, Migraine headaches, Head injury, Certain medicines or medicines that are toxic to hearing, Anemia,, Hypertension, Stress, Too much wax in the ear, Certain types of tumors, Too much coffee, Smoking cigarettes
     
  • Why is my tinnitus worse at night?
    During the day, the distractions of activities and the sounds around you make your tinnitus less noticeable. When your surroundings are quiet, your tinnitus can seem louder and more bothersome. Fatigue and stress may also make your tinnitus worse.
     
  • How is the cause of tinnitus diagnosed?
    Tinnitus is a symptom of a problem. The first thing you should do is to try to find out the underlying cause. You should have a medical examination with special attention given to conditions associated with tinnitus. You should also receive a full hearing evaluation by an audiologist to see if hearing loss may be causing your tinnitus.
     
  • Should I see an audiologist?
    Your hearing should be tested by an audiologist to see if hearing loss is present. Since tinnitus can be associated with a number of hearing-related conditions, a hearing evaluation can help provide information about the cause and treatment options for you.
     
  • How is tinnitus treated?
    Knowing more about the cause of your tinnitus can be a great relief. When the possible cause of your tinnitus is understood, your stress level (which can make tinnitus worse) is frequently reduced. You can "take charge" by anticipating, preventing, and changing situations that make your tinnitus worse. The most effective treatment for tinnitus is to eliminate the underlying cause. Tinnitus, in some cases, can be a symptom of a treatable medical condition. Unfortunately, in many cases, the cause of tinnitus cannot be identified, or medical or surgical treatment is not an option. In these cases, the tinnitus can still be managed using a variety of other methods including hearing aids/tinnitus maskers
     
  • Will a hearing aid help my tinnitus?
    If you have a hearing loss, there is a good chance that a hearing aid will both relieve your tinnitus and help you hear
Hearing in adults
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