What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the term used for the noises that people can hear in their ear/s or within their head that are generated within the body and not by any external source. It may be present all of the time, or just in certain situations. It is not a disease or a disorder, but rather a condition that can be triggered by a number of different causes.

What are the causes or triggers of tinnitus?

Tinnitus is more common in people with hearing loss; however, you can have normal hearing and still have tinnitus. Many people experience temporary tinnitus following exposure to loud noise, for example at a music/rock concert, fireworks or when working with loud machinery.

Tinnitus can fluctuate, often the more stressed the louder the tinnitus, or the quieter the environment the louder the tinnitus. For some people certain noises or situations, even foods can increase the tinnitus.


Others notice that their tinnitus fluctuates with their health so that if their health is worse the tinnitus is often louder. This may be due to not feeling well and having less ability to cope with the tinnitus. Or as with a cold because your head is blocked, so you hear internal sounds louder.

Or it may be somatosensory too, that means that the tinnitus can be affected by movements of the head and neck, this can be related to arthritis in the head and neck or it can be caused by jaw problems too.

Below are some common triggers or causes of tinnitus:

Noise exposure

Ear infections

Some ear diseases

Head or neck injuries

Circulation problems

Side effects of certain medicines

Stress

What are the causes or triggers of tinnitus?

Tinnitus can sound very different to different people. The common sounds that patients describe are:

high-pitched ringing or rushing noise

whistling

roaring

hissing

clicking

Tinnitus can be in one ear, both ears, or in the middle of your head. It can be just the one sound or it can be two or more.

Am I the only one? How common is tinnitus?

Around 10% of the population have tinnitus but for around 600,000 people in the UK, it can be distressing.

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