Medical Terminology Made Simple: Tinnitus

Barry Lenson

Medical Terminology Made Simple: Tinnitus

As a service to people who are thinking of entering the medical and medical support professions, StraighterLine is launching a series of short posts on medical terminology. Each post will define one medical term.

Today’s medical term is . . . Tinnitus

Tinnitus, commonly known as “ringing in the ear,” isn’t actually a disease. It is a condition in which a sufferer hears a ringing noise in the ear that isn’t actually a sound that is coming from somewhere outside the body. It can be caused by exposure to a very loud noise but unfortunately, it often starts without any outside stimulus.

It might be tempting to ask, “If my ear is ringing, why can’t I just answer it?” But it’s not that simple. A variety of medications can work to reduce or eliminate tinnitus. Some people report that the condition gets better if they stop drinking coffee or avoid certain foods. But tinnitus is an ornery condition to get and some people suffer from it for years with no relief. The best way to beat it is to prevent it by avoiding exposure to loud sounds, but even that approach is not completely reliable.

The American Tinnitus Association advocates for people who have Tinnitus and supports research to find a cure. If you or someone you know suffers from the problem, this organization can refer you to a physician in your area who is trained to help.

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