Imagine a constant ringing, buzzing or whistling in your ear, 24 hours a day. It is called tinnitus. You never get a break. It is always there. Nobody else but you can hear the noise because it does not come from any external source. Although you are the only person who can hear the noise it is not a result of your imagination.
Types of tinnitus
Tinnitus can vary a lot between individuals; therefore you can find many different types of tinnitus. Tinnitus varies considerably in intensity and type. Some people describe tinnitus as high-frequency whistling sounds while others perceive tinnitus as a buzzing noise or a sound similar to butter sizzling in a frying pan. But some experience, instead, a thumping sound in the same rhythm as their heartbeat. This is called pulsatile tinnitus. Read more about the types of tinnitus.
Causes of tinnitus
What causes tinnitus? The causes of tinnitus may vary. But the most common cause of tinnitus is exposure to noise. But tinnitus may also be cause by e.g. drugs, diseases, stress and head injuries. Read more about the causes of tinnitus.
How many suffers from tinnitus?
Nobody knows how many suffers from tinnitus. Almost all of us experience tinnitus temporarily; perhaps for a few hours after a concert or any other occasion where our ears are subjected to noise. But for some tinnitus becomes persistent and/or increases. The majority of people who suffer from tinnitus find it very disturbing and uncomfortable.
According to ATA, The American Tinnitus Association, 45 million Americans are struggling with tinnitus. In Germany the “Deutsche Tinnitus-Liga” estimates that 19 million Germans have experienced tinnitus, and that 2,7 million Germans have persistent tinnitus, of which 1 million have very severe tinnitus. The British Tinnitus Association estimates that 10% of the UK population suffers from tinnitus. Read more about the prevalence of tinnitus.
Consequences of tinnitus
Many who suffer tinnitus experience side effects of their tinnitus. This may include psychological, physical and social problems. Some also experience stress, fatigue, emotional problems and depression. Read more about the consequenses of tinnitus.
Cure for tinnitus
Can tinnitus be cured? Many offer a cure or a treatment for tinnitus and some offer products against tinnitus, but so far there are no scientific proven treatment or cure for tinnitus. But different types coping strategies may help people to live with their tinnitus.
More young people with tinnitus
Tinnitus is common in people over the age of 40, but is becoming increasingly prevalent in younger people, as well, because of increased daily noise levels, including those caused by the unrestrained use of MP3s, iPods and other personal stereos.
Tinnitus and hearing loss
Many people who suffer from tinnitus may also suffer from hearing loss. Although tinnitus is more common among people who suffer from hearing loss, anyone can suffer from tinnitus. It is also possible to suffer from major hearing loss without contracting tinnitus at all.
If you experience both tinnitus and hearing loss and you begin to use hearing aids, you will find that hearing aids may both improve hearing and reduce the irritation of tinnitus.
Read more about the relation between tinnitus and hearing loss
More information about tinnitus
In this section of hear-it.org you can find more information about tinnitus.