Tinnitus from the Latin word tinnītus meaning "ringing" is the perception of sound within the human ear (ringing of the ears) when no actual sound is present. Despite the origin of the name, "ringing" is only one of many sounds the person may perceive.
Tinnitus is not a disease, but a condition that can result from a wide range of underlying causes. The most common cause is noise-induced hearing loss. Other causes include: neurological damage (multiple sclerosis), ear infections, oxidative stress, emotional stress, foreign objects in the ear, nasal allergies that prevent (or induce) fluid drain, wax build-up, and exposure to loud sounds. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines may cause tinnitus as well. Tinnitus may be an accompaniment of sensorineural hearing loss or congenital hearing loss, or it may be observed as a side effect of certain medications (ototoxic tinnitus).
Tinnitus is usually a subjective phenomenon, such that it cannot be objectively measured. The condition is often rated clinically on a simple scale from "slight" to "catastrophic" according to the difficulties it imposes, such as interference with sleep, quiet activities, and normal daily activities.
If there is an underlying cause, treating it may lead to improvements. Otherwise typically management involves talk therapy. As of 2013, there are no effective medications. It is common, affecting about 10-15% of people. Most however tolerate it well with it being only a significant problem in 1-2% of people.