The bells are ringing: tinnitus in their own words

Perspect Biol Med. 2005 Summer;48(3):396-407. doi: 10.1353/pbm.2005.0075.


Tinnitus, commonly known as "ringing in the ears," is the perception of a ringing noise or other sound within the head when none exists. It is a malady that affects millions, so its occurrence among the famous comes as no surprise. Beginning with Pliny the Elder, who coined the term, this essay describes the travails of a dozen well-known subjects afflicted with this disorder, through several centuries, principally in their own words. For some it was a burden to be endured; for others, it was unendurable. Suggested remedies were many and oft-times strange; cure, even now, is nonexistent.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Europe
  • Famous Persons*
  • History, 15th Century
  • History, 16th Century
  • History, 17th Century
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, Ancient
  • History, Medieval
  • Humans
  • North America
  • Tinnitus / epidemiology
  • Tinnitus / etiology
  • Tinnitus / history*