What is tinnitus?
The word tinnitus derives from a Latin word meaning ‘ringing or tinkling like a bell’. Tinnitus is experienced as noises or ringing in the ears or head and affects people differently, so the description of the sound may vary from person to person. Most people describe the sounds as ringing, buzzing, crickets or humming.
In many cases tinnitus is associated with some degree of hearing loss. Just about anything that causes harm or damage to the cochlea and the hearing nerve may result in the production of false signals which are interpreted by the brain as sounds.
Other causes may be stress related, dental or jaw problems or medication side effects.
How common is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is very common. Most people would have experienced some form of ringing in their ears at some stage. You may have noticed some ringing in the ears after being exposed to loud noise like at a night club or after using power tools. There is a part of the population who has ringing in their ears 24-7 without a break.