What is tinnitus and what are the causes? Tinnitus comes from the Latin word for 'ringing' and is a sound heard without any external source of sound. There is a huge variety in the sound heard and some affected musicians can even describe the note. There are many causes including noise induced hearing loss, one of the commonest in which it is associated with deafness. This can often be prevented with a good pair of ear plugs to protect against prolonged or excessive sound levels.
A foreign body in the ear such as a pea can cause tinnitus. So can wax build up and brain tumours, although this is a very rare cause and the previously mentioned causes are far more common.
Syringing of the ears was a common practise for removing wax build-up from the ears. Impacted wax is softened with drops and then removed by squirting water in the ear with a syringe. This is not performed routinely any more as it can cause irreversible tinnitus. Suctioning is recommended instead.
Some causes of tinnitus are reversible, such as wax build up, but, unfortunately, many aren't. If it has been caused by loud noises it could have been prevented by wearing a good pair of molded ear plugs. These from ZenPlugs are ideal because they are made from high density thermoplastic and can be connected on a cord so you don't lose them.