Medical Definition of Ear ringing

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ear ringing: Together with other abnormal ear noises, ear ringing is medically called tinnitus. It is a symptom of a problem, not a disease.

Tinnitus may be due to many causes including ear infection, fluid in the ears, Ménière's syndrome, medications such as aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), aging, and ear trauma (such as from the noise of planes, firearms, or loud music). In rare situations, tinnitus may reflect an aneurysm or an acoustic neuroma (a benign tumor on the acoustic nerve).

Woodwind players are more likely to experience tinnitus than other orchestral players, probably because they usually sit just in front of the brass.

If tinnitus persists a hearing test (audiogram) should be done. Sometimes, measures can be taken to lessen the intensity of tinnitus or to mask it.

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Reviewed on 12/4/2018

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