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HealthInfo Canterbury

Tinnitus

Tinnitus is the name for when you hear noise in your ears or head, but it doesn't come from an outside sound. It is a very common problem. People with tinnitus usually hear ringing, buzzing, or whistling sounds.

TinnitusTinnitus is not a disease, but a symptom of a problem with your hearing system. The problem can be anywhere from your ears to your brain. Different people experience tinnitus differently.

Many things can cause tinnitus, and we don't fully understand them all yet. Causes can include:

Tinnitus is not usually serious, but if it's a new symptom, it is sensible to get your GP to check it. This is especially important if your tinnitus is in just one ear or you have sudden hearing loss.

Your doctor will look into your ears and will usually suggest a hearing test. Occasionally you may need further tests, such as blood tests or a scan, to find the cause.

Treating tinnitus

If your doctor finds a cause such as ear wax or Ménière's disease, it will need treating.

For most people there isn’t an underlying cause to treat.

Most people can learn to cope with their tinnitus using simple self help measures. This video describes a method that some people have found helpful to improve tinnitus.

If the tinnitus is an ongoing problem options include:

An audiologist can help advise on what might suit you.

Self care for tinnitus

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed May 2020.

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Page reference: 52902

Review key: HITIN-17490