Tinnitus is the sensation of an abnormal sound in one or both ears or in the head in general. These sounds could be described as a high pitch ringing, a machinery type sound, a whooshing sound or many other descriptions depending on the patient.
A wide variety of conditions can cause tinnitus including hearing loss (both sensorineural or conductive types), certain types of heart or vascular conditions and even an unusual benign tumor of the 8th cranial nerve called acoustic neuroma.
Tinnitus must be evaluated with a thorough physical examination and at minimum a hearing test. Sometimes other more extensive testing may be recommended, such as an MRI scan, depending on the particular situation.
Various treatments are available for tinnitus depending on the cause.