Ringing in the ears

A term commonly used to describe tinnitus


Helen Cosgrove
Circulation Advisor
@AVogelUK
Ask Helen

An introduction to 'ringing in the ears'

Tinnitus has been in the English language for a very long time - the word tinnitus originates from Latin, ‘tinnire’, meaning ‘to ring’ or ‘a ringing’. Although tinnitus has been described in this manner for centuries, other types of noises can be heard including buzzing, whistling, hissing, whooshing or even music.

The noises experienced in tinnitus can be irritating, troublesome and for some, may affect normal everyday activities. Over the years, a number of methods have been developed to help treat tinnitus. However, there is no one single ‘right’ treatment and options depend on many factors, including whether the cause for tinnitus has been identified.

My ears are ringing!

The important thing to remember with tinnitus is that you are not alone in your suffering - around one in ten people experience the same problem at some stage in their life. Many famous people have experienced tinnitus, including Beethoven who complained ‘my ears whistle and buzz all day and night. I can say I am leading a wretched life’.

More recently Black Eyed Peas singer, Will.i.am reported that he doesn’t know what silence is anymore and ‘I can’t be quiet as that’s when I notice the ringing in my ears’. Barbra Streisand ascribes her volatile temperament to having suffered tinnitus from the age of seven!

What causes ringing in the ears?

In some cases, tinnitus may be a symptom of another condition such as an ear infection, ear wax or the side effect of prescribed medication. However, for many people, no cause for the problem can be identified.

The precise mechanism giving rise to tinnitus is not fully understood but it is believed that it arises as a result of disturbances to the way that nerves work between the ear and the brain. In an older person, this may be made worse because blood flow diminishes with age – this is the reason that Ginkgo biloba can sometimes be of help in tinnitus.

What treatments are available?

Treatment of tinnitus is largely dependent on the cause of the problem. A bacterial infection of the middle ear is treated using antibiotics, ear wax with ear drops and syringing.

If no underlying cause for the problem can be identified, treatment will then focus on a variety of methods and self-help techniques to ease symptoms, such as:

  • Relaxation techniques
  • Counselling groups and self-help
  • Herbal remedies and other complementary treatments
  • Dietary management

Ginkgo biloba drops

50ml

£ 10.50

find your local stockist

Fresh Ginkgo leaves extract. Also available in 100ml size.
More info

What's being asked

My tinnitus is driving me mad. Is there anything I can do?

The herb Ginkgo biloba is traditionally used for tinnitus so it may be worth trying this for ...
Read more >

What is tinnitus? How do you end up with it?

Tinnitus is a continual noise in the ear - some people liken it to a hum or a high pitched noise. ...
Read more >

I've worked in the car trade most of my life as a car body repairer - a very noisy envoirment. My hearing is very poor. Could I have tinnitus?

Unfortunately, prolonged exposure to loud noise can contribute to tinnitus. You should check this ...
Read more >

How well is your memory working?

Quick and simple tests to assess how well your working memory, short-term memory and long-term memory are working.

Take the test

Here’s what I recommend

As the A. Vogel Circulation advisor, I recommend Gingko biloba drops to help maintain a healthy circulation.

Learn more

Did you know?

Earwax can indicate how often you are being exposed to loud noises. The substance is your body’s natural way of protecting your ears, so the more you are exposed to loud noises, the more earwax you may start to produce.

Ears ringing after a concert? It might be tinnitus

Healthy & nutritious dinner ideas

Get new recipes in your inbox every week. Sign up now

6 impressive health benefits of Prune Juice