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Santiago Brooks
Santiago Brooks


Your doctor will typically diagnose you with tinnitus based on your symptoms alone. But in order to treat your symptoms, your doctor will also try to identify whether your tinnitus is caused by another, underlying condition. Sometimes a cause can't be found.



Treatment for tinnitus depends on whether your tinnitus is caused by an underlying health condition. If so, your doctor may be able to reduce your symptoms by treating the underlying cause. Examples include:

Many times, tinnitus can't be cured. But there are treatments that can help make your symptoms less noticeable. Your doctor may suggest using an electronic device to suppress the noise. Devices include:

Behavioral treatment options aim to help you live with tinnitus by helping you change the way you think and feel about your symptoms. Over time, your tinnitus may bother you less. Counseling options include:

Drugs can't cure tinnitus, but in some cases they may help reduce the severity of symptoms or complications. To help relieve your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe medication to treat an underlying condition or to help treat the anxiety and depression that often accompany tinnitus.

Researchers are investigating whether magnetic or electrical stimulation of the brain can help relieve symptoms of tinnitus. Examples include transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and deep brain stimulation.

Often, tinnitus can't be treated. Some people, however, get used to it and notice it less than they did at first. For many people, certain adjustments make the symptoms less bothersome. These tips may help:

Tinnitus is when you experience ringing or other noises in one or both of your ears. The noise you hear when you have tinnitus isn't caused by an external sound, and other people usually can't hear it. Tinnitus is a common problem. It affects about 15% to 20% of people, and is especially common in older adults.

Tinnitus is usually caused by an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, an ear injury or a problem with the circulatory system. For many people, tinnitus improves with treatment of the underlying cause or with other treatments that reduce or mask the noise, making tinnitus less noticeable.

Most people who have tinnitus have subjective tinnitus, or tinnitus that only you can hear. The noises of tinnitus may vary in pitch from a low roar to a high squeal, and you may hear it in one or both ears. In some cases, the sound can be so loud it interferes with your ability to concentrate or hear external sound. Tinnitus may be present all the time, or it may come and go.

In rare cases, tinnitus can occur as a rhythmic pulsing or whooshing sound, often in time with your heartbeat. This is called pulsatile tinnitus. If you have pulsatile tinnitus, your doctor may be able to hear your tinnitus when he or she does an examination (objective tinnitus).

Dr. Gayla Poling says tinnitus can be perceived a myriad of ways. "Ninety percent of those with tinnitus have hearing loss." Hearing loss can be age-related, come from a one-time exposure, or exposure to loud sounds over a lifetime. Dr. Poling says the tiny hairs in our inner ear may play a role.

Medications. A number of medications may cause or worsen tinnitus. Generally, the higher the dose of these medications, the worse tinnitus becomes. Often the unwanted noise disappears when you stop using these drugs.

Tinnitus is a common problem that affects more than 50 million people in the United States. For about 12 million Americans, tinnitus is a constant and noisy companion that affects their daily lives. People who have tinnitus may have trouble sleeping or concentrating. Living with tinnitus can make people feel angry, frustrated and depressed.

Tinnitus is a symptom of more than 75% of all disorders that affect our ears. Most people who have hearing loss also have tinnitus. Here are some ways people develop hearing loss that causes tinnitus:

Pulsatile tinnitus may happen because you have anemia (reduced red blood cell flow) or atherosclerosis (blocked arteries). People who have high blood pressure (hypertension) are more likely to develop pulsatile tinnitus than people who have normal blood pressure.

Rarely, tinnitus in one ear may be a sign you have a middle ear tumor (glomus tympanicum). Tinnitus along with trouble walking, speaking or balancing may be a sign you have a neurological condition. Contact your healthcare provider if you notice these signs.

Protecting your hearing is one of the best ways to avoid tinnitus. Start protecting your ears by thinking about all your regular activities. You may not realize all the ways you expose your ears to loud noises and sounds. Here are some potential activities that may affect your hearing:

Tinnitus is commonly described as a ringing sound, but some people hear other types of sounds, such as roaring or buzzing. Tinnitus is common, with surveys estimating that 10 to 25% of adults have it. Children can also have tinnitus. For children and adults, tinnitus may improve or even go away over time, but in some cases, it worsens with time. When tinnitus lasts for three months or longer, it is considered chronic.

The causes of tinnitus are unclear, but most people who have it have some degree of hearing loss. Tinnitus is only rarely associated with a serious medical problem and is usually not severe enough to interfere with daily life. However, some people find that it affects their mood and their ability to sleep or concentrate. In severe cases, tinnitus can lead to anxiety or depression.

Currently, there is no cure for tinnitus, but there are ways to reduce symptoms. Common approaches include the use of sound therapy devices (including hearing aids), behavioral therapies, and medications.

The symptoms of tinnitus can vary significantly from person to person. You may hear phantom sounds in one ear, in both ears, and in your head. The phantom sound may ring, buzz, roar, whistle, hum, click, hiss, or squeal. The sound may be soft or loud and may be low or high pitched. It may come and go or be present all the time. Sometimes, moving your head, neck, or eyes, or touching certain parts of your body may produce tinnitus symptoms or temporarily change the quality of the perceived sound. This is called somatosensory (pronounced so-ma-toe-SENSE-uh-ree) tinnitus.

Most cases of tinnitus are subjective, meaning that only you can hear the sounds. In rare cases, the sound pulsates rhythmically, often in time to your heartbeat. In these cases, a doctor may be able to hear the sounds with a stethoscope and, if so, it is considered to be objective tinnitus. Often, objective tinnitus has an identifiable cause and is treatable.

One leading theory is that tinnitus can occur when damage to the inner ear changes the signal carried by nerves to the parts of your brain that process sound. A way to think about this is that while tinnitus may seem to occur in your ear, the phantom sounds are instead generated by your brain, in an area called the auditory cortex.

Other evidence shows that abnormal interactions between the auditory cortex and other neural circuits may play a role in tinnitus. The auditory cortex communicates with other parts of the brain, such as the parts that control attention and emotions, and studies have shown that some people with tinnitus have changes in these nonauditory brain regions.

If you have tinnitus, first see your primary care doctor, who will check for earwax or fluid from an ear infection that could be blocking your ear canal. Your doctor will also ask about your medical history to find out if an underlying condition or a medication may be causing your tinnitus.

Next, you may be referred to an otolaryngologist (commonly called an ear, nose, and throat doctor, or an ENT). The ENT will ask you to describe the tinnitus sounds and when they started, and will examine your head, neck, and ears. You might also be referred to an audiologist, who can measure your hearing and evaluate your tinnitus.

The ENT may order imaging tests, especially if your tinnitus pulsates. Imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), or ultrasound can help reveal whether a structural problem or underlying medical condition is causing your tinnitus.

When tinnitus has an underlying physiological cause, such as earwax or jaw joint problems, addressing the cause can eliminate or greatly reduce symptoms. But for many people, symptoms can persist for months or even years. There are several ways to lessen the impact of tinnitus. Below are some of the treatments that your doctor may recommend.

Investigators at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and at other research centers across the country, many supported by NIDCD, are working to better understand what causes tinnitus and to develop new treatment strategies. Evidence suggests that tinnitus is caused by changes in neural networks in the brain, so many research efforts are aimed at testing the benefit of magnetic or electrical stimulation of the brain.

Tinnitus is the perception of sound when no corresponding external sound is present.[1] Nearly everyone experiences a faint "normal tinnitus" in a completely quiet room; but it is of concern only if it is bothersome, interferes with normal hearing, or is associated with other problems.[6] While often described as a ringing, it may also sound like a clicking, buzzing, hissing or roaring. It may be soft or loud, low- or high-pitched, and may seem to come from either one, or both ears, or from the head itself. In some people, it may interfere with concentration, and in some cases is associated with anxiety and depression.[7][8]

Rather than a disease, tinnitus is a symptom that may result from various underlying causes and may be generated at any level of the auditory system and structures beyond that system. The most common causes are hearing damage, noise-induced hearing loss or age-related hearing loss, known as presbycusis.[2] Other causes include ear infections, disease of the heart or blood vessels, Ménière's disease, brain tumors, acoustic neuromas (tumors on the auditory nerves of the ear), migraines, temporomandibular joint disorders, exposure to certain medications, a previous head injury, and earwax. It can suddenly emerge during a period of emotional stress.[4][3][2][12][13] It is more common in those with depression.[3] 041b061a72


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