Tinnitus is a noise which you can hear in one or both ears or ‘in your head’ that no one else can hear. It is often described as a ringing or whistling or whooshing noise. It is a condition that a large proportion of the population will suffer from at some point in their lives and is more common as people get older.
||Tinnitus can have several possible causes and determining these is crucial for diagnosis and treatment.
The ringing can vary in pitch and may be intermittent or constant. Tinnitus can also sometimes be pulsatile, such as hearing a heartbeat, which means a different set of possible causes has to be considered.
A full history and examination and simple hearing test is required to exclude any serious underlying condition. Occasionally more sophisticated hearing tests, a CT scan, an MRI scan or blood tests may be suggested.
Some patients simply need reassurance that there are no underlying causes for concern, for others, whose quality of life is severely affected; treatment can vary from hearing aids and other devices to counselling.