Tinnitis (tin-EYE-tus) is a ringing, hissing, buzzing, thumbing, or whistling of the ear that may be constant or intermittent. It's one of the most common ear problems and frequently associated with others. Causes can include infections, toxicity caused by large doses of medication such as quinine (KWY-nine), Streptomycin (strep-toe-MY-sin), Salicylites (sal-IH-sill-ates), or excessive alcohol or drinking. In addition, cardiovascular diseases, tumors, allergies and dental diseases can be associated with external ear tinnitus. On rare occasions, tinnitus can be caused by a buildup of wax. Removing it relieves the annoying sound. Seeing an ear specialist is the only safe way to solve this problem. Under no circumstance should you ever try to clean it out yourself. Sticking anything in your ear, even a cotton swab, can damage the delicate eardrums. A visit to the ear doctor is the first step in treating any form of tinnitis, since it's far more likely that other factors are the cause.