Many people suddenly develop ringing in their ears. Their doctors order various tests, all of which usually come back normal, and they are told that they have tinnitus.
Tinnitus means that you hear a sound that no one else hears. It can be a buzzing, roaring or ringing and it can even sound like a heart beat. If the sound is pulsatile like a beating heart, the doctor may look for obstructions or widening in the arteries in the brain such as those caused by arteriosclerotic plaques or a ballooning of an artery called an aneurysm. However, the ringing is almost always the result of damage to the nerve that carries hearing messages back to the brain, and that can be caused by a tumor or by diabetes, pernicious anemia or the herpes or chicken pox viruses, or any other factor that damages nerves.
Almost always, the doctor will tell you that you have tinnitus, which means that he cannot find a cause for the nerve damage and there is no specific treatment. Drugs are ineffective. People with this condition often find it difficult to sleep at night because of the noise. Doctors prescribe a special hearing aid radio to be placed in the ear. It sends a signal that blocks the ringing in the ears. A simpler treatment is for them to turn an FM radio between stations and raise the volume. FM static can often block the ringing and allow the person to sleep at night.