Tinnitus refers to noises that can be heard in one or both ears in the absence of external sound, often experienced as ringing or buzzing although may also be described as loud noises, bells chiming, cicadas, rushing or roaring sounds and in some cases even singing.
Tinnitus can be intermittent or permanently present and is often more prominent in quiet environments.
Tinnitus can occur, but is not specific to, exposure to loud noise through work or leisure activities, medication, stress or illness, lack of sleep, medical conditions such as Meniere’s disease, and permanent damage to the hair cells in the cochlear (e.g. with age or noise exposure).
While there is no cure for tinnitus, the most effective treatment involves retraining the brain to not pay attention to the sound. Some people have also found the fitting of a hearing aid beneficial, while others need further counselling and sound therapy to assist. For some people the pitch of the sound (frequency) can be determined and a tinnitus masker used.
A hearing assessment, along with medical advice, will help to determine the cause of tinnitus and assist in determining the most appropriate form of management required.