What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus - from the Latin verb "to jingle" - is an involuntary sound perception originating inside the head. In about 80-85% of cases, tinnitus is accompanied by hearing loss, but it can also be caused by exposure to loud sounds, accidents, ear infection, aging or stress.

Tinnitus is as individual as you are. It can be:

  • A buzzing or ringing in the ears
  • A hissing or roaring sound
  • High-, low-, single- or multi-toned
  • Occasional or constant

The tinnitus vicious cycle

Tinnitus can trigger negative emotions. Often the severity of your reaction depends on your perception of the sound. If it's negative, you're likely to have a negative emotional response. When you do, it can make your brain pay more attention to the tinnitus. And a cycle begins that affects your nervous systems. Anxiety, sleep disturbance, depression and poor concentration can occur, all of which reinforce the vicious cycle.

Causes of tinnitus

Hair cell damage, which also causes hearing loss, is considered one of the most common causes of tinnitus. Tinnitus is also associated with:

  • Degeneration of the bones in the middle ear
  • Injury to the ears, neck or head
  • Neurological disorders
  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Side effects of medication

With the exception of a small number of tinnitus cases that are medically treatable, the cause of tinnitus is not relevant for the choice of tinnitus treatment.