Approximately 50 million US citizens between 60 and 75 are suffering from a hearing ailment identified as tinnitus. More prevalent in men than women, the primary manifestation of ringing ears is experiencing sounds which no one else can hear.

Some tinnitus sufferers hear the tones as generated from their ears, and others experience them as originating from in their heads. Although the character of the noise can vary, probably the most commonly-reported are long-term high-pitched ringing, whistling, roaring, buzzing, or humming sounds, or even a fast clicking noise like crickets chirping. Sometimes the clicking sounds can be rhythmic or pulsating, as though it is in synch with the person’s heartbeat. Many instances are usually referred to as subjective tinnitus, which means just the particular person suffering will be able to hear the sound, however in unusual cases of objective tinnitus, a doctor might actually hear a sound.

Tinnitus quite often suggests a problem occurring within the four components of the auditory system – the outer ear, the middle ear, the inner ear, and the brain – and as such could be more of a sign of other issues than just a disease alone. Tinnitus more regularly appears as a co-symptom associated with other kinds of either conductive or sensorineural hearing loss, as opposed to being a form of hearing loss in itself. Though since tinnitus can cause people to hear the buzzing or ringing sound continually, this tends to have the effect of lowering a person’s absolute threshold of hearing, which makes it tougher to hear low-level sounds normally.

There are many reasons for tinnitus, but the most widespread is getting older, and age-related loss of hearing. Some of the other things that can cause tinnitus are physical transformations in the bones or hair cells in the inner ear, long term contact with loud music or noise, traumas to the ears, neck, or head, and even prolonged anxiety or depression. Tinnitus is oftentimes viewed as a secondary symptom of other conditions, such as Meniere’s disease, TMJ disorder, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, and some tumors. Some prescribed drugs may also lead to tinnitus, such as certain antibiotics, cancer and malaria medications, diuretics, and aspirin consumed in abnormally high quantities.

There isn’t a certain solution or treatment for tinnitus.Close to 35% of cases go away by themselves within a few months. Varying success has been achieved in managing the rest of the cases with electrical stimulation, nutrition and drug therapy, and when necessary, surgery. If you currently have or suspect you might have tinnitus, see a professional for an exam.

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