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Tinnitus: What Causes it, How to Cure it, and More

an attractive woman holding her ear she may have tinnitus
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There is nothing like a little peace and quiet after a long day of work. But what happens when you can’t enjoy any quiet time because you are constantly hearing a ringing sound in your ears?

This ringing in the ears is known as Tinnitus, and it can be very stressful and annoying. Read on to learn all about Tinnitus, what causes it, and what you can do to treat tinnitus so you can finally have an afternoon of silence.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is also called “ringing in ears,” and it refers to an individual who constantly hears some sort of noise as they go about their daily life. This noise, or ringing, is generally not heard by anyone else and solely affects the individual.

The volume of tinnitus varies from person to person. Some individuals report that the noise they hear is so loud they can’t sleep. For others, they only notice when they are sitting in a quiet room and are otherwise unaffected by the noise they constantly hear.

a close up image of an ear with visual sound going into it
Image from Shutterstock.

What Does Tinnitus Sound Like?

Tinnitus usually sounds like a high-pitched ringing noise, but the exact noise can vary from individual to individual. Some people hear more of a buzzing sound, while others hear clicking or humming.

It is also worth noting that some individuals hear a low-pitched sound akin to roaring, and others may even hear a hissing sound.

Basically, if you are hearing any sort of noise in your ears constantly, it is likely you have tinnitus.

How Long Does Tinnitus Last?

Luckily for most tinnitus sufferers, tinnitus resolves on its own in 6-12 months from the onset of symptoms. However, some individuals have symptoms of tinnitus that never resolve, meaning they may not be able to enjoy any peace or quiet for the rest of their lives.

The good news is, for those sufferers whose symptoms don’t disappear on their own, many of them grow used to the sound and eventually learn to ignore it.

If you have tinnitus that won’t seem to clear up on its own, and it continues to both of you, it is advised to see a doctor. They may be able to suggest some strategies for solving your tinnitus or helping you learn to cope with it.

What Causes Tinnitus?

The cause of tinnitus is damage to the small hairs or nerves in your inner ear. There are several factors or events that could cause damage to these delicate organs, and for some individuals, there is no obvious cause; they simply wake one day to find they hear a noise that won’t go away.

Below is a list of all the most common tinnitus causes.

a man holding his ear in paid
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Age-Related Hearing Loss

Unfortunately, as you age, you naturally begin to lose some of your hearing. When this happens, your ears, which are used to a certain level of noise, may continue to operate at the same level as they always have, even though the noises are no longer there.

As a result, you may begin to hear sounds that aren’t there. This is a common cause of tinnitus, especially if you are over the age of 65. About 33% of adults over 65 develop tinnitus at some point in their lives.

Ear Injuries or Trauma

If you have recently suffered an ear injury, then tinnitus is likely an after-effect you will experience as your ear heals. Those suffering an ear injury will likely only have tinnitus in one ear, and it will go away as the injury heals.

Long or Frequent Exposure to Loud Noises

Loud noises can cause tinnitus, as exposure to multiple loud noises can over-stimulate the nerves in your ears. Loud noise-induced tinnitus is common in those who operate loud machinery or regularly fire guns as part of their work.

Tinnitus is also common in the music industry, especially in those who regularly work near speakers or in a loud venue like a club or concert hall. It is recommended that these professionals wear hearing protection like earplugs to protect their ears, though they will likely eventually get used to the tinnitus they are experiencing.

Related: The 9 Best Earplugs for Concerts

Ear Conditions and Diseases

Ear conditions like ear infections frequently cause temporary tinnitus. It is also possible for a buildup of ear wax to cause tinnitus.

Other serious conditions, like eustachian tube dysfunction, Meniere’s disease, TMJ, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, as well as tumors, can also cause tinnitus. If you suspect you have any of these which could be causing your tinnitus, see a doctor as soon as possible.

Certain Medications

Many prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications can cause tinnitus. The most common is NSAIDs like ibuprofen, which can cause a rushing sound tinnitus in the ears.

Anti-depressants and some antibiotics prescribed by your doctor can also cause tinnitus. If you are experiencing tinnitus and regularly take a medication, it’s a good idea to check the bottle and see if it is a possible side effect.

It is important to note that Tinnitus is not a disease on its own. Rather, it is a symptom of a different condition or disease. If you are concerned or bothered by your tinnitus, it’s important to discuss it with your healthcare provider to get to the root cause of your tinnitus, especially if you are young and haven’t recently been exposed to loud noises.

a doctor looking in a womans ear
Image from Shutterstock.

How to Get Rid of Tinnitus

Tinnitus is more of a symptom or side effect rather than an actual disease. This means that there isn’t any cure for tinnitus beyond discovering the underlying cause.

If your tinnitus is caused by a disease, treating that disease may help cure your tinnitus. In the same way, if you are taking a medication and are experiencing tinnitus as a side effect, switching your medications may help resolve your tinnitus.

For those experiencing tinnitus as a result of hearing loss, therapy is often prescribed, as you’ll have to learn to live with the tinnitus as hearing loss is currently irreversible.

Is There Any Tinnitus Cure?

As mentioned above, there is no cure for tinnitus, though most cases of tinnitus resolve on their own with time or by treating the underlying cause of tinnitus. If your tinnitus has been going on for over a year, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss treatment options to help reduce your tinnitus as much as possible.

What Can Help With Tinnitus Relief?

There are several things that can help with your tinnitus relief. Below, we have made a list of several tinnitus treatments you can do on your own, but remember that your doctor may have additional options if your case is serious.

1. Use a Noise Machine

Noise machines that produce sounds like a waterfall or fan can help you keep your mind off your tinnitus. While they won’t lower the sound you hear, they can help you sleep or focus on work when needed.

2. Therapy

Certain therapists specialize in tinnitus. They can help you develop coping mechanisms for the sound you hear, as well as teach you to ignore the sound.

3. In-Ear Noise Generators

Similar to a noise machine, in-ear noise generators produce a low white noise sound as you go about your day. These are for daytime use only.

4. Sleep Headphones

If constant white noise helps your tinnitus, you may want to invest in headphones you can sleep in, which can allow you to play white noise all night long.

5. Wear Hearing Protection

While wearing hearing protection won’t stop your current tinnitus, it can help protect your ears from future hearing damage and worsening tinnitus. This is especially advised if you have tinnitus due to working around frequent or extended loud noises.

a woman holding a finger to her ear
Image from Shutterstock.

What is the Latest Treatment for Tinnitus?

A new study by WebMD has revealed that there are several treatments in the works for tinnitus. Two of the up-and-coming treatments involve sending electrical pulses or audio pulses to your ear or spine at certain intervals to help relieve the symptoms of tinnitus.

These treatments are still in testing and may not yet be available for you. However, it’s always worth asking your doctor to see if you may qualify for a study or treatment trial.

Overall, tinnitus is an annoying condition that can have a profound effect on your daily life. If you are suffering from tinnitus, it’s important to work with your doctor to discover the cause so you can take steps to resolve your tinnitus and go back to living your life.

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Written by Hope Davis

Long-time music lover Hope became a full-time writer in 2020 after being laid off from her regular job due to COVID-19. She now spends her time traveling the world to see her favorite bands while writing about them!


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