Tinnitus Defined


Tinnitus is a noise perceived in the ears or head that does not come from an external sound source. People often describe tinnitus as ringing, buzzing, hissing or humming, and the noise can be low, medium or high-pitched. The noise can be constant or it can come and go.


Tinnitus is often more noticeable in quieter situations such as a quiet room or at bedtime. During the daytime, activity and background sound may partially “mask” or cover up the tinnitus, making it less noticeable. As a result, it may seem like tinnitus is louder at night or at bedtime, even though the tinnitus volume has likely stayed the same.


The severity of an individual’s tinnitus depends on their emotional reaction and attitude toward the tinnitus. Two people may report very similar tinnitus characteristics, but one may not be bothered by it while the other finds that it greatly interferes with their everyday life.