Ringing in Ear (Tinnitus)
Most of us have experienced a ringing in ear or buzzing sound from time to time, known as Tinnitus. Very often it occurs when we have been in an environment that has exposed us to loud noise. In fact, 1 in 8 people in the UK experience Tinnitus with the figure predicted to reach over 500,000 in the next 10 years.
What Sounds do People Hear?
The type of sound that people hear can vary significantly. It can be one sound or a combination of sounds such as ringing in ear, buzzing, rushing and whistling. The condition is most common for those that are deaf or hard of hearing. There are also a small proportion of people with no hearing loss that also experience the sounds.
Where do the Noises Come From?
Whilst there has been a lot of research in to Tinnitus, the noises that people hear are not fully understood. They are thought to be general noises within the hearing system. For those that suffer with Tinnitus, electrical signals are being generated at some point between the Cochlea and Auditory Cortex. This gives the person the perception of sound when there is none present.
Our hearing pathway is very efficient and has a complex filtering system. This gives us an in-built warning system that allows us to tune in to sounds we want to hear, and tune out of sounds we don’t want to hear. Our hearing pathway is constantly working to ensure we are not bombarded by the environmental sounds around us.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Whilst frustrating, Tinnitus is a symptom and not a disease. It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of Tinnitus. However, it is known to be linked to noise exposure, hearing loss, some medications and some diseases of the ear. Certain types of injury to the ear or head can also cause the sensation. It can even occur where a person has not been exposed to any of these events. Watch the video below for more information.