Yes, one fears a permanent condition: some people have a debilitating tinnitus for years and years: very depressing! My hearing in the left ear was considerably weakened by the volume of the tinnitus (pronounced tin'-ni-toos in Latin, incorrectly pronounced ti-NITE-iss by our unenlightened types). I recall being in the hallway and not understanding much of anything spoken loudly by several people.
I've had it since December 1998. It's high-pitched and hissy, and is exacerbated by eating white food. Nothing turns up the volume like eating rice. Pasta and anything made with flour and sugar are almost as bad, but seem like less obvious triggers the longer I have tinnitus. I usually pronounce it with the unenlightened emphasis on the second syllable. Saying it the Latin way sounds prissy, and I try to avoid sibilants when I can.
I miss hearing things people are saying. I keep closed captioning going on my TV at all times. I have a friend who mutters, perhaps passive-aggressively, and I wish I could turn his CC on.
As far as music goes, I'm much happier when the speakers are close to my head now instead of the typical speakers-across-the-room positioning. I've bought a couple of wireless speaker sets from Bowers & Wilkins, and they have made such a difference. I don't know whether I just like listening to audio files (not MP3s) more than CDs, or if it's just that the music has never been this close to my head before (other than on headphones, which will never be more than a compromise for me), but I have not enjoyed listening to music this much in many years.
I hope your TIN-nih-tuus is not making you crazy, Cato.