What is Tinnitus (Ringing In The Ears)?
Tinnitus (pronounced ti-ni-tis or ti-nahy-tuhs), or ringing in the ears, is the sensation of hearing ringing, buzzing, hissing, chirping, whistling, or other sounds. The noise can be intermittent or continuous, and can vary in loudness. It is often worse when background noise is low, so you may be most aware of it at night when you're trying to fall asleep in a quiet room. In rare cases, the sound beats in sync with your heart (pulsatile tinnitus).
An estimated 50 million adults in the U.S.suffer from tinnitus. Tinnitus can cause people to have difficulty concentrating and sleeping. It may eventually interfere with work and personal relationships, resulting in psychological distress.
Although tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss, it does not cause the loss, nor does a hearing loss cause tinnitus. In fact, some people with tinnitus experience no difficulty hearing, and in a few cases they even become so acutely sensitive to sound (hyperacusis) that they must take steps to muffle or mask external noises.
Some instances of tinnitus are caused by infections or blockages in the ear, and the tinnitus can disappear once the underlying cause is treated. Frequently, however, tinnitus continues after these conditions are treated. In such a case, other therapies -- both conventional and alternative -- may bring significant relief by either decreasing or covering up the unwanted sound (webMD).
One thing is certain. If you have tinnitus, you know it. The constant sound you hear whenyou are trying to sleep or focus that becomes annoying and potentially disabling is not your imagination. It is real. Help can be found.