Since ancient times, people have been plagued by a perception of sounds without a source. Today, 10-15% of the population1experiences tinnitus. Tinnitus can vary in intensity, type of sound, how often an individual hears it and its cause. While some therapies may improve the condition, there is no universal cure.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a spontaneous hearing of noises. It is a symptom but not an illness. An individual may hear musical tones, ringing, buzzing, rushing, pulsing or other sounds when nothing is producing sound. It’s a phantom noise that can be annoying and even debilitating. It was described in an Egyptian text in 150 B.C., but may have been plaguing Egyptians as early as the Seventeenth Dynasty (1650-1534 B.C.). The modern word, tinnitus, comes from the Latin tinnere, which means to ring.2
There are two types of tinnitus: subjective and objective. Objective tinnitus is less common, but has a physical cause. Subjective tinnitus is more common and harder to treat.3 Subjective tinnitus, which most people have, can happen due to a variety of reasons, which may be challenging to pinpoint.