Tinnitus Relief Programme | Tinnitus Disease
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Tinnitus Disease

Tinnitus Ringing Ear Noise – Disease?


What causes tinnitus and is tinnitus caused by disease? The development of tinnitus has based its entire history on those two questions, with ringing in the ears as the first warning. Early tinnitus sufferers were thought to have an incurable condition in the brain originating from pathophysiology origin. Individuals who suffered from tinnitus throughout history were Joan of Arc, Vincent van Gogh, Ludwig van Beethoven, Bedrich Smetana, Charles Darwin, and Michelangelo di Lodovico Buorarroti Simoni. As we look back over history, it seems as if having tinnitus was a guarantee of eventual cultural fame.

In 1931, tinnitus was officially described by R.L. Wegel, an otolarngologist, as:

Tinnitus is a pathologic symptom…I am under the impression that the presence of tinnitus…generally indicates an active or progressive lesion and that the cessation of it … is an indication that the degeneration or atrophy of tissue has been arrested. People entirely without tinnitus are extremely rare, if such cases exist at all. 1

Early diagnosis of tinnitus caused by disease

Aristotle and Hippocrates introduced their ideas of “tinnitus masking” with the question, “Why is it that buzzing in the ear ceases if one makes a sound. Is it because a great sound drives out the less?” Following this, Roman medicine described tinnitus as part of depressive and seizure disorders, having a common patho-physiology. Called the “curse of Titus” in Babylonian Talmud with serious ringing in the ear symptoms, tinnitus was then described as a buzzing in the brain which responded well to high doses of sound therapy during the middle 1900s, a treatment still used today for the control of the abnormal sounds of tinnitus. Today, this form of treatment has been replaced by white band-noise generators in low doses.

Discovering and Understanding Tinnitus

The medical history of tinnitus very seldom touched on the fact that it could be caused by exposure to loud noise. Tinnitus was a perception based on the opinions and studies of early medical professionals – it was believed to be a disease or diseased-condition. The early treatment of tinnitus focused on the disease, not on what was causing it. An oxymoron, tinnitus is often connected with a developing hearing loss. But tinnitus is not connected as the cause of hearing loss or people with hearing loss do not have to have tinnitus.

The symptoms of tinnitus in the early days treated tinnitus only as a disease, with the perception of sound as a primary consideration.  But what has remained constant over the years is the fact that it’s the ear that patients feel they have no control over – with its many abnormal sounds – not the brain which the early medical field felt was the overall cause of tinnitus.

Tinnitus health information and research

Tinnitus is an ongoing study, with tinnitus health information and research being updated regulalry.




Wegel, R.L.: A Study of Tinnitus, Arch. Otolaryng. 14:158 (Aug.) 1931.

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