Tinnitus is often described as a ringing in the ears. It also can sound like roaring, clicking, hissing, or buzzing. It may be soft or loud, high pitched or low pitched. You might hear it in either one or both ears.

Millions of Americans have tinnitus. People with severe tinnitus may have trouble hearing, working or even sleeping.

Causes of tinnitus include

  • Hearing loss in older people
  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Ear and sinus infections
  • Heart or blood vessel problems
  • Meniere's disease
  • Brain tumors
  • Hormonal changes in women
  • Thyroid problems
  • Certain medicines

Treatment depends on the cause. Treatments may include hearing aids, sound-masking devices, medicines, and ways to learn how to cope with the noise.

NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Symptoms of Tinnitus

The following features are indicative of Tinnitus:
  • ringing sound
  • buzzing sound
  • roaring sound
  • clicking sound
  • hissing sound
It is possible that Tinnitus shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Tinnitus

The following are the most common causes of Tinnitus:
  • inner ear cell damage
  • ear problems
  • chronic health conditions
  • ear injuries

Other Causes of Tinnitus

The following are the less common causes of Tinnitus:
  • age-related hearing loss
  • exposure to loud noise
  • earwax blockage
  • ear bone changes
  • meniere's disease
  • acoustic neuroma
  • head injuries
  • neck injuries

Risk Factors for Tinnitus

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Tinnitus:
  • loud noise exposure
  • increasing age
  • being male
  • smoking
  • cardiovascular problems

Prevention of Tinnitus

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Tinnitus. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • using hearing protection
  • turning down the volume of music
  • eat healthy diet
  • exercise regularly

Occurrence of Tinnitus

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Tinnitus cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Tinnitus can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Tinnitus can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Tinnitus

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Tinnitus:
  • Hearing (audiological) exam: To rule out or identify possible causes of tinnitus
  • Body movement test: To identify an underlying disorder that needs treatment
  • Imaging tests: To look for possible causes of tinnitus

Doctor for Diagnosis of Tinnitus

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Tinnitus:
  • Otorhinolaryngologist
  • Audiologist

Complications of Tinnitus if untreated

Yes, Tinnitus causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Tinnitus is left untreated:
  • fatigue
  • stress
  • sleep problems
  • trouble concentrating
  • memory problems
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • irritability

Procedures for Treatment of Tinnitus

The following procedures are used to treat Tinnitus:
  • Surgery: To treat the underlying medical condition
  • White noise machines: Help cover the internal noise at night
  • Hearing aids: Help suppress the sound so that it's less bothersome
  • Tinnitus retraining: To mask the specific frequencies of the tinnitus you experience

Self-care for Tinnitus

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Tinnitus:
  • Avoid possible irritants: Reduce exposure to things that may make tinnitus worse
  • Cover up the noise: Help mask the noise from tinnitus
  • Manage stress: May provide some relief
  • Reduce alcohol consumption: Helps preventing symptoms from worsening

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Tinnitus

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Tinnitus:
  • Acupuncture: Helps reducing tinnitus symptoms
  • Use ginkgo biloba supplements: Helps reducing tinnitus symptoms
  • Use zinc supplements: Helps reducing tinnitus symptoms
  • Intake B vitamin supplements: Helps reducing tinnitus symptoms

Patient Support for Treatment of Tinnitus

The following actions may help Tinnitus patients:
  • Counseling: Help you learn coping techniques to make tinnitus symptoms less bothersome
  • Support groups: Sharing experience with others who have tinnitus may be helpful
  • Education: Learning as much as you can about tinnitus and ways to alleviate symptoms can help

Time for Treatment of Tinnitus

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Tinnitus to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • Disease cannot be treated but only maintained or effects reduced

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Tinnitus.
Hearing Disorders and Deafness

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