Tinnitus is a common hearing disorder. It is caused by the perception of a sound through the ears when no external source of sound is present. The sound is often a ring, buzz, hum or whoosh. This is distinct from the auditory hallucinations of psychosis. These seem to be within the head and tend to be voices or other sounds. They tend not to be the sounds perceived in tinnitus.
Some musicians with tinnitus are able to name the note of the tone they can hear.
Some of the causes of tinnitus are avoidable, such as noise-induced hearing loss and when it is a side-effect of syringing the ears. Causes such as Menieres Disease and otosclerosis are not avoidable.
Tinnitus is sometimes caused by high blood pressure or narrowing of the arteries allowing people to hear blood rushing.
Syringing of the ears for impacted wax is no longer recommended. This is due the fact that it can cause permanent damage to the delicate sensory hair cells of the ear, resulting in permanent tinnitus. Softening of the wax with warm olive oil or drops from the chemist, followed by suctioning is now the recommended treatment.
Noise-induced hearing loss is a common cause of tinnitus which is easily preventable by wearing ear plugs. Molded fitted ear plugs are ideal because they are comfortable and highly effective at blocking noise from the ears. ZenPlugs from http://zenplugs.com/molded-earplugs/ are comfortable and antibacterial and last for years. They also prevent tinnitus.
Dr Toby Bateson