Tinnitus is the perception of sound that does not originate from something outside the ear (i.e. it is perceived inside ones ear or head). Tinnitus may be intermittent or constant, soft or loud, and may sound like ringing, buzzing, humming or like crickets. It may occur in one or both ears. Statistically, tinnitus occurs in over 50 million Americans. Although there are many unknown causes of Tinnitus, according to the Better Hearing Institute, the most frequent causes of Tinnitus are:
- Noise exposure (examples: machine noise, shooting, loud music)
- A natural part of the aging process
- Head injury
- As a side effect of medication (examples: aspirin or ototoxic drugs)
Tinnitus may be a symptom of a more serious health problem therefore it is very important that the affected individual have an evaluation by an audiologist or physician.
Many Tinnitus suffers learn to ignore the sound with little disruption to their lives. Others have a more severe reaction to the Tinnitus resulting in depression, disrupted sleep, difficulty hearing and difficulty concentrating.
Although there are no cures for Tinnitus, there are several options to help cope with it including counseling, sound therapy and self help books.