According to the American Tinnitus Association, tinnitus is the medical term for the perception of sound in one or both ears or in the head when no external sound is present.
Tinnitus is usually described as a ringing noise, but some patients report hearing a buzzing, hissing, screaming, humming, or whistling sound, or a ticking, clicking, roaring, “crickets” or “locusts,” tunes, songs, or beeping. Tinnitus can be intermittent or it can be continuous. When tinnitus is continuous it can create distress in the sufferer.
Tinnitus is not a disease but a symptom. It can be caused by ear infections, foreign objects or wax in the ear, or excessive exposure to loud sounds. Tinnitus is also a side-effect of many medications, such as aspirin or some antibiotics. In many cases, however, no underlying physical cause can be identified.
Even though there is no correlation between tinnitus and hearing loss, many people with tinnitus also have hearing loss. They often identify their tinnitus pitch in the pitch range of their hearing loss.