What's the term for a persistent ringing or noise in your ears?

And the answer: tinnitus.

Photo credit: New Atlas

Tinnitus involves the sensation of hearing sound when no external sound is present. According to the Mayo Clinic, it's a fairly common problem, affecting about 15 to 20 percent of people. It can be caused by an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss or injury to the ear, but it's usually not a sign of something serious.

Most people have experienced some form of tinnitus, however short lived it may be. Attending a loud concert or watching a loud movie can trigger tinnitus that fades away after several hours. If the condition persists for over six months, it is then considered chronic tinnitus, a condition which usually requires medical diagnosis. While more rare, effects of chronic tinnitus can be greatly reduced or eliminated by a variety of treatments.

Our ears are complex organs that allow us to take in many stimuli at once. They are always collecting information -- even when you’re asleep! The ears contain some of the smallest, most delicate bones in your body. While these bones are small enough to fit on a penny, their structure and the surrounding valves have evolved to support the sensory neurons responsible for the sensation of hearing.

To learn more about the way we hear, check out the video below.

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