Tinnitus is the perception of ringing, hissing, or
other sound within the ears when no corresponding external sound is present.
Latin, ‘tinnire’ means ‘to ring’.
is not a disease. It is a symptom that can be caused by a number of medical
conditions. Tinnitus can arise in any of the four sections of the hearing
system - the outer ear, the middle ear, the inner ear and the brain.
Damage to the microscopic endings of the hearing
nerve in the inner ear is the most common cause of tinnitus. Hearing loss,
trauma, ear infections, earwax and/or use of certain medications can also cause
affects 1 in 5 of the world's population, and touches over 33% of the elderly
community. It may be intermittent or constant in character; mild or severe in
intensity; vary from a low roar to a high-pitch sound so deafening that the
individual may hear nothing else. It may be subjective (audible only to the
patient) or may be objective (which is audible to others). It may or may not be
associated with a hearing impairment.
Tinnitus can be an extremely disturbing
condition. It is not a serious problem in most of the cases, but rather a
nuisance that may go away with time. Rarely, tinnitus represents a serious
health condition. Most patients benefit with the use
of maskers or hearing aids, while some people with tinnitus may require
medical or surgical treatment. Counseling and certain
lifestyle changes help one deal with tinnitus.