Got some questions about what exactly tinnitus is?

Tinnitus is often called ringing in the ears, but it can be buzzing, hissing, whistling or any sound.

Tinnitus is the perception of noises in the head and/or ear which have no external source. It derives from the Latin word for ringing and those living with the condition may have to endure a ringing, buzzing, hissing, whistling or other noise. The sensation can be constant or intermittent and it can vary in volume.

Is tinnitus an illness?

It is not a disease or illness; it is a symptom generated within the auditory system and usually caused by an underlying condition. The noise may be in one or both ears, or it may feel like it is in the head. It is difficult to pinpoint its exact location. It may be low, medium or high pitched and can be heard as a single noise or as multiple components.

Are there different types of tinnitus?

Occasionally people have tinnitus that can seem like a familiar tune or song. This is known as musical tinnitus or musical hallucination. Some people have tinnitus which has a beat in time with their heartbeat. This is called pulsatile tinnitus.

Want more information?

For more information, go to our page All about tinnitus.

For answers to more commonly asked questions, please see our FAQs