What is Tinnitus ?

The term tinnitus refers to a condition where there are noises heard within the head or ear, and the only person who can hear the noise is the person themselves. The sounds each person experiences may vary, ranging from just one sound or a mixture of whistling, ringing, buzzing and rushing sounds. If they are loud enough, the sounds may interfere with the personís day-to-day life. (14% said in a recent survey that it was no louder than a whisper, 8% compared it to the sound of a low flying jet). The condition of tinnitus can be an occurrence pattern or a constant. The condition is common among deaf and hard of hearing people, but it also happens to a small number of hearing people.

The most important thing to know about tinnitus is that it is not a disease, nor life-threatning, but it is a frustrating condition for the sufferers.


There is no clear-cut explanation of what causes tinnitus, but it is normally found within the hearing mechanism itself. There are many possible causes such as where there are problems with the external and middle ear; i.e. wax, middle ear fluid (glue ear), otosclerosis and chronic infection of the middle ear. These conditions can be treated. Exposure to noise is one of the main causes of tinnitus in the inner ear, where the tiny cells of the cochlea are damaged.


It isnít hard to imagine the stress the sufferer goes through with tinnitus, and people get easily depressed as it affects their lives. To have a sympathetic understanding of the problem is crucial in helping the sufferer to live with it.

The most common treatment tinnitus sufferers get is to wear a hearing aid as this brings more sound into the ear. This masks the tinnitus sounds. The other advantage of this treatment is that it improves hearing as well. Other tinnitus maskers have developed different sounds to cover a variety of tinnitus noises. For those who suffer continuous tinnitus sounds, there are pillow maskers available to help the patient get some sleep during the night. Some people simply use an alarm clock or radio to act as a pillow masker. There are various other methods of controlling tinnitus. Stress is a common factor in making tinnitus worse so it helps to change your lifestyle and relax. If you are a tinnitus sufferer, why not try and attend one of the yoga or relaxation classes that many colleges run, and see if it has any benefit for your tinnitus? There are the dietary factors to consider too. Caffeine, found in chocolate and coffee, can make the noises worse.

The future,

The search for a medical solution to combat tinnitus has no clear ending in sight, but the use of the tinnitus maskers has greatly improved. However, there is one surgical method which can stop the tinnitus sounds by implanting small electrodes in the cochlea and stimulating it with small electrical charges. Unfortunately this is only possible for those who have a total hearing loss, as the procedure destroys the hearing mechanism.

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