What Is Tinnitus?

The senses we have were made so that we can all enjoy life at its fullest. We see the beauty of a sunset, smell the crisp scent of wood-smoke and we can hear the trill of birds or the sounds of our favorite music.

But for some people, there’s a condition that can interfere with or rob them of the joy of listening to their favorite sounds. It can also rob them of many of life’s pleasures. That condition is tinnitus.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is hearing a sound inside your ear when the sound doesn’t exist outside of your ear. The definition for the word tinnitus means ringing. 

How to pronounce tinnitus?

The term tinnitus derives from the Latin word tinnire, meaning ‘to ring’. Us is the masculine form of the word. Therefore, it should be pronounced “tinn-it-tus”, with emphasis on the first syllable, which is how a medico would pronounce it.

However, it is often pronounced as “ta-NIGH-tis”, in the same way as appendicitis; (appen-de-CY-tis), dermatitis (derma TY tis), or tonsillitis (ton-sil-I-tis). To justify this pronunciation, the ending of the word tinnitus would more properly be “-itis,” as in “tinn-itis.” While generally accepted, it is technically incorrect as the three words referred to are actually inflammation of the appendix, skin or tonsils. “Itis” is the medical term for inflammation.  And, there is no inflammation of the “tinn” and as explained earlier, tinnitus ends in ‘-us‘ not ‘-itis’.

Tinnitus is not always limited to ringing.

People who suffer with tinnitus might hear a variety of noises including ringing or buzzing or a high-pitched whine in their ear.

Millions of people struggle with tinnitus and the condition often affects just one ear, but can be in both. In some rare cases, the patient has a medical condition, which is cause behind the tinnitus.

Often called phantom noises because they can’t be heard outside the ear, the sound these noises give off can range from a dull, annoying buzz to a sharp, high-pitched whining noise.

For the cases that are dull and merely annoying, the tinnitus is more easily ignored. But some cases of tinnitus can reach the point where the noise can make it hard to get any work done.

The noise in the ear can reach such a pitch that it can cause you to miss parts of conversations around you or interrupt any activity that requires listening. Some of these cases can quickly become intolerable.

Tinnitus can be chronic and ongoing, in which case it doesn’t ever let up. However, tinnitus can also be transient or temporary and only show up unexpectedly at random times.

There can be reasons behind any sudden onset of the condition – and that occurs when auditory signals processed by the brain fail to properly translate the signal.

Any tinnitus that suddenly appears after a virus should be checked out by a doctor.

The symptoms of tinnitus can vary and no two people will report the exact same symptoms, but most people who have the condition report hearing a low pitched buzzing sound or hissing.

People with tinnitus can also hear roaring or a whistling sound like the high-pitched noise a teakettle can give off.

The high-pitched ringing appears to be the most common sound. Many people also get the feeling that something is lodged in or clogging the ear, making hearing more difficult.

What causes Tinnitus? 

Find out More


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