Tinnitus is a type of noise usually originating from the inner ear and nerve. It is commonly associated with hearing loss and hence should be investigated with a thorough history and examination and hearing test (audiogram). Tinnitus can be either pulsatile (like a heartbeat) or non-pulsatile e.g. humming, buzzing, ringing, whooshing noise. Depending on its nature, sometimes it may come from twitching of the middle ear muscles and eardrum.
Although many cases of tinnitus may be entirely benign, further investigation with an MRI scan of the inner ear or brain is sometimes indicated to rule out rarer but more serious conditions such as glomus tumours (blood vessel tumours) and acoustic neuromas (inner ear nerve tumours) which may present initially with tinnitus. Treatment of tinnitus depends on the cause and severity and may require the input of an ear specialist.