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Tinnitus is the continuous perception of sound in the ears or head without any external source. It is a condition when there is noise or ringing in the ears without any external sound source. Often described as ringing, buzzing, hissing, or other noises, tinnitus can be temporary or chronic and may affect one or both ears. It is a common condition, affecting millions of people worldwide. It’s estimated that around 10-15% of the UK population experience tinnitus to some degree, that is about 1 in 7 adults in the UK. Tinnitus affects 7.6 million people in the UK – with 1.5 million of them having severe tinnitus. It can occur in individuals of all ages, but it is more prevalent in older adults.

Tinnitus image

There are two main types of tinnitus: subjective and objective. While subjective tinnitus is the most common and only the affected person can hear the sounds, objective tinnitus is rare and can be heard by both the person experiencing it and a healthcare professional.

Underlying Causes:

Tinnitus is often a symptom of an underlying issue, and common causes include exposure to loud noises, age-related hearing loss, earwax blockage, ear infections, and certain medications. In some cases, the exact cause may be challenging to identify.

Association with Hearing Loss:

Tinnitus is frequently associated with hearing loss. Damage to the auditory system, whether due to loud noises or aging, can contribute to both conditions.

Sounds Experienced:

The perceived sounds in tinnitus can vary widely. Some people describe it as a ringing or buzzing, while others may hear hissing, roaring, or even music-like sounds. The nature and intensity of the sound can differ among individuals.

Impact on Quality of Life:

Tinnitus can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life. It may lead to difficulty concentrating, sleeping disturbances, increased stress, anxiety, and, in severe cases, depression.

Management and Treatment:

While there is no cure for tinnitus, various management strategies exist. Treatment approaches may include addressing underlying causes (if identified), using hearing aids, sound therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy, and relaxation techniques.

Medication-Induced Tinnitus:

Certain medications, such as some antibiotics, antidepressants, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can contribute to or exacerbate tinnitus. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional if tinnitus develops during medication use.


Protective measures can help prevent tinnitus, especially in noise-induced cases. Using ear protection in loud environments, such as concerts or workplaces with high noise levels, is crucial.

Professional Evaluation:

Individuals experiencing persistent or bothersome tinnitus should seek professional evaluation. An ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist or an audiologist can conduct assessments to determine the underlying cause and recommend appropriate management strategies.