What is Tinnitus?
Commonly known as “ringing in the ears”, Tinnitus is the perception of sound when no actual external noise is present. It can actually manifest in other perceptions than ringing, such as buzzing, hissing, whistling, swooshing, and clicking.
Tinnitus can be acute (temporary), or chronic (ongoing).
- It is estimated that 50 million Americans suffer from tinnitus
- Only 10% seek medical attention
- Most people who have tinnitus have some degree of hearing loss
- Tinnitus is not a disease but a symptom usually related to the auditory system
- Most people can learn to ignore their tinnitus
- Although there is not yet a cure for tinnitus, there are treatment options to provide relief
Tinnitus is not a disease in and of itself, but rather a symptom of some other underlying health condition. Some of these conditions include:
- Hearing Loss
- Obstructions in Middle Ear
- Head and Neck Trauma
- Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
- Sinus Pressure and Barometric Trauma
- Noise Exposure
- Ototoxic Drugs
- Traumatic Brain Injury
While commonly referred to as “ringing in the ears” tinnitus can actually manifest in many different perceived sounds.
In general, there are three ways to describe a patient’s personal perception of the tinnitus sound:
- Tonal Tinnitus: The perception of near-continuous sound (or overlapping sounds) with well-defined frequencies. The perceived volume of the tinnitus often fluctuates.
- Pulsatile Tinnitus: The perception of pulsing sounds, often in-beat with the patient’s heartbeat. Pulsatile Tinnitus is often associated with Objective and Somatic Tinnitus.
- Musical Tinnitus: The perception of music or singing, sometimes the same tune on a constant loop. Also known as Musical Ear Syndrome, Musical Tinnitus is very rare.