5 things about... Tinnitus

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Tinnitus is a sound heard in one or both ears with no external source. The sounds are described as ringing, buzzing, hissing or whistling. Nothing is causing the sounds, it is a misinterpretation by the brain of signals from the nerves in the ear.

1. What exactly is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a condition relating to noises in the ears and/or in the head with no external source.

2. What sort of noises would I hear?

Tinnitus noises are often described as ringing, whistling, buzzing and humming, which may be heard in one ear, both ears or in the middle of the head. The noise can be continuous or it may come and go.

3. What causes the condition?

The cause of tinnitus isn't fully understood. It's not a disease in itself, but a symptom created within a person's auditory pathways. Although it is often assumed that tinnitus occurs as a result of ear disease, this isn't always the case.

4. Who is affected by tinnitus?

Tinnitus can affect all age groups. It often occurs after exposure to noise. Mild tinnitus is common - about 10 per cent of us have it all the time.

5. How do you cope with it?

Learning to relax and keeping your mind occupied can help you cope with the noise. Also, check your diet, as alcohol and caffeine can affect tinnitus. For info, see

Where to next?

- What is tinnitus?

- What causes tinnitus?

- Learn to relax

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