Have you ever heard a ringing in your ears? It could be a high-pitched and quiet whine or it could even be a constant buzzing noise. Perhaps it goes away after a few seconds, or maybe it continues to affect you throughout the day and never stops until you go to sleep.

This is the most common sign of a condition that affects roughly 1 in every 4 people–tinnitus. It’s so common that most people don’t even realize they have it. If you’ve ever heard a buzzing noise or even hear music playing in your ears now and then, then there’s a good chance that you too are a sufferer of tinnitus.

Defining Tinnitus

Tinnitus is often defined as hearing sounds that are not being caused by external sources. For instance, if you hear a buzzing noise despite being in a quiet room on your own, then it can be classed as tinnitus. There are many different types of sound that you might hear and they can range from hissing, whistling and whirling to ringing and buzzing. Some people have even reported that they can hear music if they focus hard enough. The pitch can be high or low and may even change over time.

Types of tinnitus

Tinnitus is split into two different categories.

  • Objective tinnitus is when the sound itself can be heard by a third party. For instance, if your audiologist can also hear the sounds that you hear, then it would be considered objective tinnitus since it’s not just in your head. This is incredibly rare and can be caused by physical effects to your ear.
  • Subjective tinnitus is far more common and can only be heard by the sufferer.

What Is tinnitus caused by?

Many people don’t realize at first that tinnitus is not a condition, but it’s a symptom. This is because tinnitus usually occurs when the sufferer has other underlying health issues. This could range from hearing loss induced by exposure to loud sounds, or it could be from stress-related problems that the sufferer is experiencing. Long-term exposure to loud noises is one of the most common causes of tinnitus, and this is because it’s usually associated with hearing loss.

Injuries to the head or body can also cause tinnitus. This is because there is physical damage that could potentially affect the nerves in your ear, thus causing the noises. Ear infections are also a possible cause of tinnitus because they can cause blockages in your ear, raising the possibility of tinnitus.

Can tinnitus be treated?

There are actually several different types of treatment for tinnitus. The most common type of treatment is therapy. This is essentially training yourself to forget the tinnitus sound or even associate it with something else. Another solution that is common for people with hearing loss is to wear a hearing aid. Not only will these help deal with your hearing loss, but they can also be used to mask the tinnitus noise. If you don’t suffer from hearing loss, then it’s also possible to have masking devices that play sounds which can be used to mask the tinnitus.