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What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus can be perceived in either one or both ears, and is often described as “ringing in the ears”.  It can, however, take the form of high-pitched whining, hissing, humming, whistling, buzzing and many others. It is not always continuous and its intensity can vary. Most people with tinnitus have some degree of hearing loss. However, to some patients, tinnitus does not mean a loss of hearing, but rather a loss of silence.

Tinnitus can be brought on by stress, illness or exposure to loud noise. Other causes can include certain antibiotics and anti-cancer medication, trauma, aspirin and heredity.

These incidents or causes can release free radicals that can damage the delicate hair cells of the inner ear. These damaged cells release excessive amounts of a toxic substance called glutamate that causes increased activity in the “hearing centre” of the brain and leads to the perception of phantom sounds (tinnitus).