What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus describes hearing sounds in or around your head and ears that do not originate from the outside world. Tinnitus can take many forms and be constant, intermittent or fluctuating. It is often described as ringing, pulsing, buzzing, hissing, roaring or clicking.
Tinnitus is very common and most of us know someone affected by it. Most people with normal hearing can hear tinnitus-like sounds when they are in the silence of a sound-proof room for just a few minutes.
Tinnitus can simply be a sign of normal workings of the ear and the hearing nerves, or a short-term symptom of treatable problems such as ear infections. In other cases, tinnitus can be an important signal of a health problem with the ears, hearing and (much less commonly) other parts of the body. Tinnitus can therefore be helpful in alerting us to seek help.
The term tinnitus describes a hugely diverse and complex problem. For each individual, tinnitus can vary in its cause, sound quality, intrusion, other associated problems, and its effect on lifestyle and relationships. For this reason, Medical Audiology specialises in the diagnosis and specific treatments for tinnitus rather than blanket solutions.
Many people with tinnitus ignore it easily. Others find that tinnitus reduces their quality of life, interferes with sleep, concentration, work and social life. In those cases, tinnitus requires further investigation and treatment. Medical investigations are required when tinnitus occurs in one ear only, changes suddenly, pulses, comes with other problems with ears and hearing or has a significant effect on quality of life.