Tinnitus is when we experience noise or ringing in our ears when no external sound is present. Almost any ear condition may cause tinnitus, even just wax build up or a problem with the jaw joint. Tinnitus may also occur with no underlying cause. Brain tumours are a very rare cause of tinnitus, but should be excluded in patients with persistent tinnitus particularly if it occurs in only one ear.

Tinnitus therapy may be specific to underlying conditions, including removal of wax, correction of hearing loss with hearing aids or occasionally surgery. In many patients no cause will be found. Non specific treatment which is known to help relieve tinnitus include

• Reduction in Caffeine (Coffee, Tea, Pepsi, Coke)
• Reduction in Stress
• Smoking cessation
• An exclusion of underlying worrying conditions by your specialist often has a positive effect on how the tinnitus is perceived

Tinnitus is often worse with no background noise, such as at night when we are trying to get to sleep. Many people find that a clock radio between channels or a ticking heater (white noise) in the bedroom helps mask the tinnitus and helps in falling asleep.

Further information is available from the Australian Tinnitus Association