The History of Tinnitus

Tinnitus in History

Tinnitus throughout History

Undoubtedly, tinnitus is more common than ever in these noisy modern days. However, ringing in ears has been in existence for a long time. In fact, ancient Egyptian documented cases of tinnitus. Since then, the condition has been interpreted in several ways. If you would like to know the history of tinnitus existence and how it has been managed across many generations, here is an enlightening read for you!

Ancient Egypt

Historically, the oldest documentation on tinnitus showed 17th century B.C on papyrus. Back then, the ancient Egyptians believed that tinnitus-affected individuals were bewitched. As a solution, they would combine frankincense, oil, tree trap, soil, and herbs, then insert into the “bewitched ear” using a reed stalk. You’ll agree that hardly any individual would agree to such treatment in this modern era.


According to the Mesopotamians, three forms of tinnitus exist, including speaking, singing, and whispering of the ear. Then, affected individuals were treated using opium, belladonna, and cannabis. Also, some would chant, calling on the god of water to relieve the patient. These treatments were documented on clay tablets, among the 600 clay tablets that give ancient medical information. 

Classical China

As for the ancient Chinese, they believed that an imbalance between the Ying and the Yang causes tinnitus symptoms. While the Yang displayed adaptation, movement, and change, the Ying stood for support, constitution and structure. 

-East India

Indians are known to understand medicines vastly. Hence, it’s not surprising to see records of tinnitus in their history, albeit quite unconventional. According to the Adivasi tribes in India, small animals live in human ears. When they engage in a fight with other animals or foreign bodies in the ear, tinnitus occurs. Thus, the tribe used fumigation as a tinnitus treatment, which involves burning non-poisonous snakes and releasing the fumes into the ear to chase away the small animals.

Ancient Rome

The Romans contributed to the understanding of tinnitus more than most regions. In fact, a Roman scholar, Pliny the Elder, gave the condition the name “tinnitus.” Depending on the source of ringing in ears, several groups of tinnitus treatments were used by the Romans. For instance, they would recommend exercising or placing honey, vinegar, and radish on the ear if the source is the head. Gargling was also often used. For tinnitus stemming from the ear, the affected individuals would clear the ear and hold their breath until they laughed. Alternatively, tinnitus patients were asked to boil earthworm in goose grease, then put it into the ear for all forms of ear problems.

14th Century Medieval German Medicine

Here is another interesting medieval solution for tinnitus symptoms used by the Germans. This solution entails using a freshly baked loaf of bread and applying it to both ears to generate perspiration. Afterward, the patient would be asked to chant, “Bind and thus produce perspiration, and by the help of God, you will be cured.” This method is similar to the ear-candling method, which still exists as part of modern-day alternative medicine.


According to renaissance medical practitioners, trapped winds in the ear causes tinnitus as they swirled endlessly within the ear. To release the wind, they would make a hole into the ear bones with a silver tube. This method helps suck the air out of the ear canal – a revolutionary solution that leads to the development of surgery as one of the treatments for tinnitus.

History of Tinnitus: a Conclusion

Fortunately, there has been a more significant understanding of tinnitus symptoms in the 21st century. From tinnitus management, therapies to drugs, several other solutions are available. More importantly, patients now have access to a wide array of resources that helps them recover quickly. In this regard, our readers are encouraged to check out

 Top 20 Tinnitus Blogs

 on the internet as they contain valuable information to help with the condition.

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