What Is It?

Tinnitus, commonly called ringing in the ears, is the sensation of hearing a sound in the ears when no such sound exists. This sound, which comes from inside the head, typically is described as a ringing, but it also can take the form of an annoying hiss, whistle or buzz. Tinnitus can be constant or can come and go.

Most often, tinnitus is a symptom of an ear problem, such as:

  • Earwax buildup

  • Age-related hearing loss

  • Meniere's disease

  • Inner ear damage from loud noise

  • Middle ear damage caused by a sudden change in pressure (barotrauma)

Occasionally, tinnitus is a side effect of medication. Aspirin in moderate to high doses often causes tinnitus.

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