Tinnitus is a sporadic or continuous ringing sound in one or both ears that cannot be linked to an exterior element. It is a symptom that originates in the hearing system and can emanate in a variety of different sounds. Tinnitus severely affects the quality of life of one in five Americans.
Ringing in ears can be classified differently depending on which symptoms occur. If a ringing sound remains in the ear for over six months, it is called persistent tinnitus. The most common tinnitus is categorized as primary tinnitus. This type has no detectable cause except hearing loss. When the source of the symptoms can be identified, it is labeled as secondary tinnitus.
The majority of people suffer from subjective tinnitus, which cannot be heard by anyone else. Occasionally, objective tinnitus occurs and can be heard by a physician using a special microphone. One of the roots of subjective tinnitus can be from the middle ear drum as a result of an ear infection or muscle spasms. They can also stem from outer ear problems including excessive ear wax touching the eardrum, which adds pressure causing a change in the way the ear vibrates.
In order to identify which form of tinnitus is present, it is important to schedule an examination with an ENT physician for a detailed assessment.