Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is the sensation of hearing ringing, buzzing, hissing, chirping, whistling, or other sounds. Some people hear more complex sounds that vary over time. The sounds may be intermittent, continuous, or pulsating in time with the heart beat. A pulsating sound may result from a blocked artery, an aneurysm, a tumor in a blood vessel, or other blood vessel disorders.
The noise can vary in loudness. It is often worse when background noise is low, so you may be most aware of it at night when you're trying to fall asleep in a quiet room.
Although tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss, it does not cause the loss; nor does a hearing loss cause tinnitus. In fact, some people with tinnitus experience no difficulty hearing, and in a few cases they even become so acutely sensitive to sound that they must take steps to muffle or mask external noises.
Some instances of tinnitus are caused by infections or blockages in the ear, and the tinnitus often disappears once the underlying cause is treated. Frequently, however, tinnitus continues after the underlying condition is treated. In such a case, it needs to be treated. Sometimes, significant relief may be obtained by either decreasing or covering up the unwanted sound.
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