The Origins Of Tinnitus In Ancient Egypt

With the onset of industrialization and the fact that in general, our lives are much noisier than they once were, you could be forgiven for thinking that Tinnitus is a modern condition. However, it might surprise you to know that it has actually been around for many centuries, and was likely causing the same problems for sufferers then, as it does today.

In fact, incidents of Tinnitus were first recorded as far back as ancient Egypt, proof that while cases may be more prevalent today, the condition is not a modern one. 

Fortunately, modern treatments for the condition are a million times more sophisticated than they might have been all of those centuries ago, and with the help of a Coventry Lenire Specialist, sufferers are able to alleviate their symptoms, making their lives a lot more bearable. 

Let’s look in a little more detail at the origins of Tinnitus, and how the condition was perceived by other countries and cultures:

Ancient Egypt

As far back as the 16th century, Tinnitus was recorded in a compilation of ancient medical texts known as the Ebers Papyrus; the oldest recording of it anywhere in the world. 

It was believed that anyone who suffered from the debilitating condition was actually bewitched, and cures were available for ‘bewitched ear,’ which included oil infusions, with tree trap, frankincense, soil and herbs, that went into the ear by means of a stalk of reed. 


Occupying parts of modern Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Syria and Turkey, today, the historical region of Mesopotamia in West Asia was once occupied by people who believed there to be 3 different types of Tinnitus: singing, speaking and whispering. When 600 tablets made of clay containing medical writings were recovered, treatments for Tinnitus could be seen amongst them. With treatments ranging from cannabis, opium and belladonna, to chanting to the water god to beg him for relief from the condition, it was clear that this was a very real condition affecting more than a mere minority. 

Classical China

Believed by the ancient Chinese to have been caused by a Ying and Yang imbalance (Ying is represented by support, constitution and structure, while Yang is represented by adapting, moving and changing), while there isn’t much evidence of how the condition was treated, it was apparent that Tinnitus was not a medical disorder in their opinion. 

East India

Believing that small animals inhabit human ears, in East India, The Annamite Tribes treated the condition of Tinnitus with methods such as fumigation, in which snakes were burned and the smoke encouraged into the ear canal. Should a human become embroiled in a fight with a similar creature to that which inhabits their ear, or become riled or upset by a foreign body, this is when they believed the condition would occur. 

Ancient Rome

Coined by an ancient scholar of Rome named Pliny the Elder, the original term of Tinnitus has a lengthy history. The Roman people administered different treatments according to the source of the noise; if it originated from within a person’s head, a regimen of exercise, gargling and the placing of various food substances into the ear was prescribed. Should the noise originate in the ear, however, the sufferer was asked to clear their ear, hold their breath, and wait until they laughed. Somewhat disturbingly, they also used to boil earthworms in the grease of a goose and place them into a person’s ear to rid them of all manner of ear related problems. 

Medieval Wales

Treatments for Tinnitus described by 14th century Welshmen, included a method not dissimilar to ear candling today, in which a hot loaf of bread was sliced in two and placed either side of the head (over the ears) to induce perspiration. 

Renaissance era

Giving a whole new meaning to the term ‘trapped wind,’ Italians in the 14th and 15th century believed that Tinnitus was caused by wind trapped in the ear, and introduced the first surgical methods to relieve patients of their suffering. Rather worryingly – and nothing like safe modern treatments of today, such as Lenire Tinnitus Treatment in Coventry – a hole was drilled into the bones surrounding the ear, and a silver tube was used to suck out the trapped air. 

As you can see, Tinnitus has been causing patients untold suffering for centuries and some weird and wonderful treatments were prescribed to cure them of the condition. Nowadays, understanding Tinnitus as audiologists do, more successful, safer, and innovative treatments can be provided to alleviate suffering. 

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