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Tinnitus is the name for hearing noises that are not caused by an outside source. They come from inside your body.

It's not usually a sign of any serious conditions and generally improves over time. There are treatments that can help.

It can affect people of all ages, including children. But it's more common in people aged over 65.

Symptoms of tinnitus

Tinnitus can sound like:

  • ringing
  • buzzing
  • whooshing
  • humming
  • hissing
  • throbbing
  • music or singing

You may hear these sounds in 1 or both ears, or in your head. They may come and go, or you might hear them all the time.

It's often described as 'ringing in the ears'.

You have probably experienced short periods of tinnitus after listening to loud noises. For example, after a music concert.

Severe tinnitus

Tinnitus may come and go for some people. It may only be a minor irritation. But tinnitus can sometimes be continuous. It can have a big impact on your life.

Severe cases can be very distressing. It can affect concentration and cause problems such as difficulty sleeping and depression.

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE.

page last reviewed: 22/12/2020
next review due: 22/12/2023

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.