Tinnitus

Is this your symptom?

  • Ringing, buzzing, humming, hissing, or other sound in the ears

Some Basics...

  • Tinnitus is hearing a sound in one or both ears when there is no real sound present.
  • This problem is a very common. About 1 in 10 people have it.
  • For some people, this is a ringing sound in the ear(s). For others, it can be a buzzing, whistling, humming, or hissing sound. Some people hear it just when it is quiet, like at bedtime. Other people can hear it all the time.
  • Usually it is not serious.

Causes

Tinnitus is a symptom, not a disease. Some common causes of tinnitus are:

  • Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis)
  • Earwax
  • Exposure to loud noise, such as loud music or firearms

Other causes include:

  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Alcohol
  • Aspirin toxicity
  • Ear foreign body (small object or insect in ear)
  • Eustacian tube dysfunction
  • Medicine causing injury to hearing: This can be drugs such as gentamycin, tobramycin, furosemide, ethacrynic acid, cisplatin, and quinidine.
  • Medicine side effect: This can be drugs such as indomethacin, quinidine, propranolol, levodopa, carbamazepine, aminophylline, and caffeine.
  • Meniere's disease
  • Otosclerosis

Treatment

Treatment is available for people with this problem.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Hearing aids, if the problem is decreased hearing
  • Remove earwax, if that is the cause
  • White-noise machine

Resources

When to Call for Tinnitus

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • Hearing loss started suddenly in one or both ears and present now
  • You feel weak or very sick
  • You think you need to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Earache
  • Hearing loss after a very loud noise (such as explosion)
  • Taking medicine that can damage hearing (such as gentamycin, tobramycin, furosemide, ethacrynic acid, cisplatin, quinidine)
  • Using aspirin daily or long-term
  • You think you need to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Tinnitus is bothersome, or keeps you from working or going to school
  • Tinnitus lasts more than 7 days
  • Tinnitus mainly in one ear
  • Hearing is slowly getting worse
  • Taking medicine that can cause tinnitus (such as indomethacin, propranolol, levodopa, carbamazepine, aminophylline)
  • Symptoms of hearing loss, dizziness, and ringing in the ears that come and go
  • Hearing loss long-term exposure to loud noise (such as music or at work)
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Mild tinnitus in both ears and only heard in quiet room
  • Brief spell of tinnitus after an exposure to loud noise (such as a music or at work)

Care Advice

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Tinnitus is hearing a sound in one or both ears when there is no real sound present.
    • This problem is a very common. About 1 in 10 people have it.
    • For some people, this is a ringing sound in the ear(s). For others, it can be a buzzing, whistling, humming, or hissing sound. Some people hear it just when it is quiet, like at bedtime. Other people can hear it all the time.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Avoid Loud Noise:
    • Listening to loud noises such as loud concert music or sounds of gunfire can cause short-term tinnitus. Usually this goes away in a few hours.
    • Long-term exposure to these and other loud sounds over time can cause permanent (long-lasting) hearing loss.
  3. Avoid caffeine, aspirin, and alcohol. These can make tinnitus worse.
  4. Use Background Noise:
    • A pleasant, low-level noise in the background can help reduce tinnitus.
    • You may want to try using a fan, play quiet music, or buy a white-noise machine.
  5. What to Expect:
    • Usually tinnitus is not serious.
    • You should see a doctor if it is bothersome or an ongoing problem.
  6. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Tinnitus is bothersome or makes it hard to work, or go to school
    • Decreased hearing
    • Earache or dizziness
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You become worse

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Last Reviewed: 10/18/2017 1:26:00 AM
Last Updated: 7/25/2017 1:11:58 AM

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