A surprising number of Americans have some form of tinnitus; 1 in 5 Americans report having symptoms of it. Tinnitus is the perception of a constant noise in the ears. Most people with tinnitus describe the sound as a constant high pitched “ringing”, “buzzing” or “hissing” sound. Although tinnitus is usually not a serious medical condition by itself it is an extreme nuisance to people who have it. Some people with tinnitus find it difficult to sleep at night or have trouble following conversations.
This video contains a few examples of what people with tinnitus claim to hear in their ears.
A common cause of tinnitus is inner ear damage. In the cochlea, tiny hairs detect vibrations in the cochlea fluid and send electrical signals to the brain. In people with tinnitus, some of these hairs are snapped or broken so the hairs constantly send electrical signals to the brain. The reason why people with tinnitus often hear high-pitched sounds is because, the hairs closest to the base of the cochlea hear the highest pitched sounds and they are also the first hairs to get damaged. To prevent tinnitus, it is recommended to avoid areas with very loud noises and to listen to music at a moderate volume.