Tinnitus Awareness week – The noisy problem

First posted - 7th February 2012

From 6th to 12th February 2012 it is National Tinnitus Awareness week.

So what is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is where a person can hear sounds or noises in their ears without there being an external cause for this noise. The sounds themselves seem to be within the ear channels themselves but on examination there is no physical cause for it.  It seems that the brain gets confused by the nerve signals coming from ears.

The word 'Tinnitus' comes from the Latin word meaning 'ringing'.  This gives an indication as to what the sounds can be like.  Some sufferers hear ringing, for others it's buzzing, hissing or whistling.

As well as the type of sound varying, the location, pitch and continuity of the sounds also varies from person to person.

Causes of Tinnitus


Tinnitus is not a disease but a symptom of something else.  The exact causes for tinnitus starting is not fully understood by the medical world.

However the following may often precede tinnitus:

  • Head injury
  • exposure to loud noise
  • Chemotherapy
  • Stress
  • Severe or chronic ear infections
  • Hyperactive thyroid disease
  • Anaemia

Tinnitus can occur to anyone of any age, it's not just restricted to older people.  It is thought that up to 10% of the population suffers from tinnitus at some stage in their life.

The sounds can disrupt sleep and a lack of concentration.  This can lead to anxiety and even depression.

Treatments for Tinnitus


If someone is suffering from any ear disorders or noises in the ears it is best to get this looked at by a medical professional to rule out any serious problems.  They may refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist too.

Generally, if there is an underlying cause and this can be found and it can be treated it will diminish the sounds.

Some sufferers find using 'white noise' a good way to mask out the sounds in their ears, as it's usually most noticeable when sitting in silence.

Some people find that their tinnitus gets worse when they are stressed or anxious so some form of relaxation therapy could aid this.

If anxiety and depression are present the medical team may treat using anti-depressants and counselling.

A number of sufferers turn to Complementary Therapies as a way to manage their tinnitus.  Some use Reflexology,  Ear candling, Massage and Acupuncture.  There are some herbal remedies that some people find beneficial too, but it's always best to seek the advice from a medical herbalist first.

I have a few clients who come to me for treatments to help manage their tinnitus.  I use a mix of Vodder Manual Lymph drainage massage around face and neck, ear candling and reflexology (some use just 1 of these, and some have all 3).  Each treatment aids deep relaxation too.

If you suffer from tinnitus and would like more information or support, or if you would like more information about how to help during Tinnitus Awareness Week then take a look at the British Tinnitus Association website.

Update - 9th February 2022


This year it is Tinnitus Week from 7th to 13th February 2022.

I'm writing this update as it has been 10 years since the blog post above was written.  The most recent update is linked with the news this week about setting up and supporting a Tinnitus Biobank, and it was all over the media including the BBC news.

But sadly there really isn't that much more extra progress in helping those who are suffering with tinnitus and equally they do not get even a fraction of the funding for research as comparable other conditions.

And it's now looking as if quite a few people who have long covid have developed symptoms of tinnitus too.

If you are experiencing tinnitus then please visit the British Tinnitus Association website as they have so much information and advice on there, including support groups.



  1. Champion on May 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    The best ways are to alleviate the presruse are to:*Chew gum*Drink something*Suck on a hard candy or mints*Yawn*Pinch the nostrils shut, take a deep breath in through the mouth, then force the air into the back of the nose (gently, but with presruse) as if trying to blow your nose.*Place hot damp towels (usually like the ones distributed to first and business class before take-off and landing to freshen up with just ask a flight attendant for them) or paper towels that have been soaked in hot water and wrung out at the bottom of two paper or styrofoam cups, then hold the cups over the ears.Another trick that used mainly on babies and small children, but can be used on anyone, is to gently but with some presruse, rub your neck repeatedly from the chin to the base of the neck. This will cause a swallowing motion that will relieve presruse build-up in the ears.You can also try using a decongestant. It is always best to check with your doctor before using any type of medications though, to make sure you are using the one best suited to your needs. Your ears pop in air planes because the air high above the surface of Earth is less dense than air near the surface. As you ascend in an airplane and the air presruse decreases, the air trapped in your inner ear will cause your eardrums to push outward. This expansion causes not only the discomfort you feel before your ears pop, but also a decrease in hearing ability, because the presruse on your ears drums makes the sound harder to transmit. Your body can equalize the presruse between your inner ear and the atmosphere by allowing some air from your inner ear to escape through the Eustachian tubes, two small channels that connect the inner ears to the throat, one on each side. When they open, you feel the presruse release and you hear the change because it’s happening in your ear. This equalization of presruse is the pop. On the way down from an air plane flight, the air presruse increases, while your inner ear is still at the lower presruse it has adjusted to. Now, the extra presruse pushes the eardrums inward. Eventually, the presruse will equalize again, but many people don’t wait, they just hold their nose closed, close their mouth and blow. Because the air from their lungs has nowhere to go, it is forced into the inner ear through the Eustachian tubes, popping their ears.If I can be of any more help or assistance, please feel free to contact me.

  2. Zoell on May 23, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    You should prolabby see a doctor. He’ll know right away whatis wrong just by looking into the ear. It sounds like you definately have an infection due to the pain your experiencing. The ringing is caused by the eardrum being pushed by the inflamation. I had similar symtoms but didn’t take care of it right away. I was taking 6 to 8 tylenol for pain and it still didn’t help. While I was suffering in bed not being able to function due to the pain, my eardrum burst. I felt like I had a toothache, migrain and an earache all at the same time. I don’t know how I tolerated the pain but I could have lost my hearing permanantly. After seeing a doctor after all that, he told me it was a wait and see thing to see if the eardrum repairs itself and to find out what the extent of my hearing loss would be. I finally was able to hear normally after about 3 weeks, but I was so scared the whole time I had to wait. Don’t mess around with pain coming from your ears. It isn’t worth the wait. The doc will prescribe something for the infection and you’ll hopefully won’t have to endure much more days of pain.

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