Tinnitus (“TIN-a-tus” or “Tin-EYE-tus”) is the medical term for the sensation of hearing sound in your ears or head when no external sound is present. In most cases, tinnitus is a subjective noise, meaning only the person experiencing it can hear it. Typically, people describe the sound as “ringing in the ears,” though others describe it as hissing, buzzing, whistling, roaring and even chirping. Tinnitus can be sporadic or constant, with volume ranging from subtle to debilitating.
The most common cause is exposure to loud noise — though head injuries, medications, earwax, and assorted other conditions are suspected of causing tinnitus.
According to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), 50 million individuals in the United States experience tinnitus to some degree, or nearly 1 in 6 people.
Currently, there is no known cure for tinnitus: nothing has been shown to actually make the sound stop. However, there are ways to manage tinnitus and provide relief. The ATA recommends that anyone with tinnitus should see a hearing professional about tinnitus.
While tinnitus does not cause hearing loss, it can – for obvious reasons – impede hearing. And in many cases, tinnitus and hearing loss are diagnosed together, as both can result from noise-induced damage to the ears.
Amplification with hearing aids can bring relief to people experiencing tinnitus, as they may boost ambient sounds that can help take the focus off of tinnitus.
The first step in managing tinnitus is to schedule an appointment with a hearing professional in your area. You can also take our fast, free tinnitus test to learn more about your tinnitus and possible relief options you can discuss at your appointment.