Tinnitus comes in several different varieties, as mentioned above. It can happen once, as the variety most people experience after a loud concert
: a soft or loud ringing in the ears that goes away anywhere from a few hours to a few days. There is another variety that is similar, but recurring
. This variety can be very disruptive to your everyday life. Twice in my life I have been woken up by these "spikes," as I call them.
The third variety I've identified is a constant, unrelenting ringing. This does not go away. Such notables as Pete Townshend and myself have this.
Tinnitus should not be confused with hearing loss. While I do have two varieties of tinnitus, I have no hearing loss. Indeed, my hearing, last time it was rated, is more acute than that of the average person of my age. Tinnitus, rather, should be seen as a sort of feedback originating in the ears.
While it is true that there is no cure for tinnitus, I have found some very effective ways of dealing with it. My first coping method is to avoid silence. For a victim of tinnitus, there is no such thing as silence, anyway. Any background noise (trucks, fans, wind, footsteps), will counteract the "outgoing" sound of the tinnitus because of phase interference. There's such a large amount of noise in American society to begin with, that my tinnitus is barely perceptible during the day. At night, I always run a fan to cover it up.
The second coping method I've developed, I've only tested on one other person; they also found that it works. This is something I do whenever I have a spike, or if my constant tinnitus is particularly loud for some reason. I plug my ears, and listen to the ringing as closely as I can. It is so that nothing exists for me, for those thirty or so seconds, other than the ringing. I make it a part of, nay the only part of, my consciousness. Then, abruptly, I pull my fingers from my ears. At that point, even the distant hum of an air conditioner will cover up the ringing. Try doing this occasionally at a concert, if you find yourself there with no hearing protection.
The most important thing to say about tinnitus is that it should be avoided. I strongly urge everyone to carry a pair of earplugs around with them. For ten dollars you can get a pair that will last your entire life, granted you don't lose them. Wear them at nightclubs, and loud concerts. If you forget them at home, plug up your ears with toilet paper (just make sure to make the pieces big enough to get back out; once, I had to have someone dig into my ear canal with a pin to get some cotton out). If you pass some construction, or deconstruction, cover your ears. True, some people might look at you and think, "What a wimp," but at least you'll be able to hear them griping about losing their hearing, or about the constant ringing in their ears, ten years down the road.