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What is Tinnitus?

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

Tinnitus is the perception of noises in the head and/or ear that have no external source. It derives from the Latin word for ringing and those living with the condition may have to endure a ringing, buzzing, hissing, whistling or other noise. The sensation can be constant or intermittent and it can vary in volume.

Tinnitus is not a disease or illness; it is a symptom generated within the auditory system and usually caused by an underlying condition. Tinnitus can be initiated for several reasons, a simple one being excessive ear wax, to more complex ones such as middle or inner ear infection, or even a growing tumour in the auditory pathway.

It could also be the sign of an individual starting to lose the high-frequency part of the spectrum which could well be due to ageing. The latest estimate by the British Tinnitus Association suggests about 7.1 million of Britain's population (or about 13%) have tinnitus.

If you hear a sound in your ear that doesn't have an external source then the first thing to do is to call your audiologist. For more information, go to our page All about tinnitus.

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