Ringing in ears explained

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a symptom characterized by the perception of sound in one or both ears when no external sound is present. It is considered a widespread condition, affecting up to 25% of adults. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of tinnitus, explaining its causes, effects, and available treatments.


Are you affected by tinnitus? – You are not alone!


of general population affected


of adults affected


suffer from chronic tinnitus

Understanding Tinnitus

Tinnitus is derived from the Latin word “tinnire”, meaning “to ring”. This auditory phenomenon is commonly described as a ringing sound and often referred to as “ringing in ears”. Still, it can also manifest as a range of other noises such as buzzing, humming, hissing, grinding, or whistling. Some people may even perceive sounds akin to music or singing, and in rare instances, noises may synchronize with an individual’s pulse, known as pulsatile tinnitus.

It’s important to understand that tinnitus is not a disease in itself but a symptom, often related to various underlying causes. Some degree of hearing loss commonly goes hand in hand with tinnitus. But it could also hint other medical conditions such as ear infections, Ménière disease (which is an ear disorder often in combination with vertigo), jaw joint disorders, or problems within the body’s blood transport system.

Prevalence and Impact

In the US alone, 25.000.000 American adults are affected by tinnitus. Surveys estimate that it affects even up to 25% of adults, with children also susceptible to the condition. It is prevalent among older adults and is particularly associated with age-related hearing loss. Moreover, tinnitus could emerge or intensify during periods of emotional stress and is more common in individuals diagnosed with depression.

While the majority of people can tolerate tinnitus well, it becomes a significant issue for about 1% to 2% of people. For these individuals, the incessant sound not only interferes with daily life but may also lead to anxiety, depression, difficulty sleeping, and trouble concentrating. The noise can be so intrusive that it drowns out external sounds, significantly impairing one’s quality of life.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Tinnitus

Tinnitus Treatment Ooptions

The diagnosis of tinnitus is primarily based on a patient’s description of the perceived sound. Medical professionals often use these descriptions in conjunction with the following methods and tools to reach a conclusion:

  • Audiogram: A hearing test to check loudness sensitivity and frequency range of the sound patients can hear.
  • Ear, Nose and Throat examinations – often referred to as ENT.
  • Neurological examinations: Speaking roughly – to examine for nerve or brain damage.
  • In certain cases, medical professionals may use advanced imaging techniques, like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Despite the lack of a definitive cure, there are various methods to manage its symptoms and mitigate its impact. Sound therapy devices, including hearing aids, can help by creating ambient noise to mask the internal sound. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can also assist individuals in managing their reactions to tinnitus, reducing the distress it causes. Certain medications may help manage the side effects of tinnitus, such as anxiety and insomnia.

I key to manage symptoms are preventive measures. Avoiding exposure to loud noises, minimizing the use of drugs that can potentially damage the inner ear, and maintaining good ear hygiene, just to name a few. If there is an identifiable underlying cause for tinnitus, such as an ear infection or high blood pressure, treating that condition may lead to improvements in symptoms.

Rarely a Sign of a Severe Underlying Condition

While tinnitus can be a significant source of distress and discomfort, it’s rarely a sign of a severe underlying condition. The key to coping with tinnitus lies in understanding its nature, acknowledging its impact, and seeking appropriate interventions. With ongoing research and advancements in auditory health, there is hope for the development of more effective treatments. If you’re grappling with tinnitus, remember that you’re not alone! – Professional help is available, and it’s important to seek medical advice to understand and manage your symptoms effectively. By focusing on awareness, early detection, and personalized treatment plans, we can all contribute to lessening the impact of tinnitus on people’s lives.