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Tinnitus - What is tinnitus?

BMJ Group Medical Reference


Having tinnitus can be distressing. There's usually no cure for tinnitus but there may be things you can do to help you cope.

We've brought together the best research about tinnitus and weighed up the evidence about how to treat it. You can use our information to talk to your doctor and decide which treatments are best for you.

If you have tinnitus, you hear ringing or another sound in your ears most of the time.

Usually, you hear the sounds in both ears. These sounds don't come from the outside. And they don't come from inside your body (the sounds aren't from your heartbeat, for example).

For many people, there isn't an obvious cause of their tinnitus. But sometimes doctors can find a cause. Some things that can cause tinnitus are:[1]

  • Hearing loss. If you've lost some of your hearing, this can cause tinnitus

  • Too much loud noise over a long period. This could be from things like loud music or machinery. You can also get tinnitus after a loud explosion

  • Some medicines. Some aspirin-type drugs, antibiotics, diuretics, and drugs for cancer can cause tinnitus

  • Menière's disease. This condition can cause tinnitus, as well as dizziness and hearing loss.


People who are depressed sometimes have tinnitus. But we don't know if the depression causes tinnitus, or if tinnitus makes people depressed.[2]

It's possible for tinnitus to be caused by a growth (a tumour) near the nerve that runs from your ear to your brain.[1] This type of tumour is called an acoustic neuroma. It's very rare. An acoustic neuroma can be serious, but it's a benign type of tumour. That means it isn't cancer, and can't spread to other parts of your body.



These medicines are used to help your immune system fight infection. There are a number of different types of antibiotics that work in different ways to get rid of bacteria, parasites, and other infectious agents. Antibiotics do not work against viruses.


Diuretics are a type of medicine that reduce the amount of fluid in your body. The extra fluid is removed in your urine.

For more terms related to Tinnitus


For references related to Tinnitus click here.
Last Updated: March 15, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.
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