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Many people have ringing (or roaring, hissing, buzzing, or tinkling) in their ears now and then. The sound usually lasts only a few minutes. Ringing in the ears that doesn't get better or go away is called tinnitus. You may hear a sound, such as a ringing or roaring, that doesn't come from your surroundings. (So nobody else can hear it.) The sound may keep time with your heartbeat, or it may keep pace with your breathing. It may be constant, or it may come and go. Tinnitus is most common in people older than age 40. Men have it more often than women do.
There are two main types of tinnitus.
The most common cause of tinnitus is hearing loss that occurs with aging (presbycusis). But it can also be caused by living or working around loud noises (acoustic trauma). Tinnitus can occur with all types of hearing loss. It may be a symptom of almost any ear disorder. Other possible causes of tinnitus include:
Most tinnitus that comes and goes doesn't need medical treatment. You may need to see your doctor if tinnitus occurs with other symptoms, doesn't get better or go away, or is in only one ear. There may not be a cure for tinnitus, but your doctor can help you learn how to live with the problem. Your doctor can also make sure that a more serious problem isn't causing your symptoms.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.
Many prescription and non-prescription medicines can cause ringing in the ears (tinnitus). A few examples are:
Vertigo is the feeling that you or your surroundings are moving when there is no actual movement. It may feel like spinning, whirling, or tilting. Vertigo may make you sick to your stomach, and you may have trouble standing, walking, or keeping your balance.
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical care.
These home treatment tips can help to reduce symptoms while you wait to see if tinnitus goes away. They can also help you cope if you have tinnitus for a long time.
Cut back on or stop drinking alcohol and drinks that contain caffeine.
Stop smoking, and don't use smokeless tobacco products. Nicotine use makes tinnitus worse by reducing blood flow to the structures of the ear.
Limit your use of aspirin, products containing aspirin, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
Exercise improves blood flow to the structures of the ear. But avoid extended periods of exercise, such as bicycle riding, that keep your neck in a hyperextended position.
Limit or avoid being exposed to the noises that may be causing your tinnitus. If you can't avoid loud noises, wear protective earplugs or earmuffs.
Try biofeedback, meditation, or yoga. Stress and fatigue seem to make tinnitus worse.
Quiet rooms can cause tinnitus to seem more distracting. Background noise may reduce the amount of noise you hear. Play music or white noise when you are trying to fall asleep or anytime you find yourself in a quiet place. Try using a fan, a humidifier, or a machine that makes soothing sounds such as ocean waves.
Some studies suggest that it may help relieve tinnitus, but other studies don't show a benefit. Further studies are needed to find the best dosage.
Call a doctor if any of the following occur during self-care at home:
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared for your appointment.
Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
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