What is tinnitus and how is it caused?

Tinnitus is a physiological disorder where an individual experiences a ringing or buzzing in their ears. There are two different types of tinnitus: subjective (the most common form of the disorder) and objective, which is considerably rarer. The difference between the two forms is whether the buzzing noise can be heard by anyone else but the sufferer, with subjective tinnitus heard only by the person in question and objective tinnitus heard by others.

Current medical opinion states that the cause of both forms of tinnitus can be traced to a number of ear conditions, including external auditory canal obstructions (earwax, for example), engorgement of the eardrum’s membrane, subjection to certain drugs (chloroquine, for example) and exposure to loud noises of high frequency. In addition, tinnitus has been linked to high blood pressure (hypertension).

Treatment for tinnitus usually involves the simple removal of any ear canal obstructions that may be present in the sufferer. However, in severe cases, surgery and meditative drugs like amitriptyline are also used. For persistent sufferers, hearing aids and high-frequency noise blocking devices are utilised.