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Many people have some ringing sounds in their ears once in a while. You may hear a roar, a hiss, a tinkle, or a buzz. The sound usually lasts only a few minutes. Ringing in the ears that doesn't get better or go away is called tinnitus.
Tinnitus is usually caused by long-term exposure to loud noise. This damages the nerves in the inner ear. It can occur with all types of hearing loss. It may be a symptom of almost any ear problem.
Tinnitus may be caused by a buildup of earwax. Or it may be caused by ear infections or certain medicines (especially antibiotics or large amounts of aspirin). You can also hear noises in your ears because of an injury to the ears, drinking too much alcohol or caffeine, or a medical condition.
You may need tests to evaluate your hearing and to find causes of long-lasting tinnitus.
Your doctor may suggest one or more treatments to help you cope with it. You can also do things at home to help reduce symptoms.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Some tinnitus may last a long time. To cope with noise, try to:
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: December 2, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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