Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm 1-888-309-0945
Online Hearing Test
Find out how good your hearing is in just three minutes. The online hearing test provides valuable information about your hearing.

Tinnitus is a ringing in the ears or other sounds that are not sourced from the outside. It is a common symptom of various underlying causes. It typically only lasts for a short period of time for most people, but for a handful of people, it can be a chronic and serious problem. Although both short term and chronic tinnitus can be bothersome and stressful, there are options that help reduce tinnitus and possibly cure it. Getting a precise diagnosis for the underlying cause of your tinnitus is the first step in determining the proper treatment options.

Noise in the ear: What's next?

Many people will experience a buzzing or whistling sound in their ears at some point in their life. However, if the noise lasts longer than 24 hours or there is accompanying pain or hearing loss, you should see a doctor. Typically, you should see your primary care doctor first. Your primary care doctor can determine if your tinnitus is caused by a blockage in your ear canal or determine if you need to see an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor (ENT), also known as an otolaryngologist. The sooner you seek medical help, especially if you have damage to any part of your ears including the auditory nerve, ear canal, and eardrums, the better chance you will have for recovery. In most cases, people who develop tinnitus will recover in time.
For those affected by chronic tinnitus (symptoms persist for longer than twelve months), the situation is somewhat different and a full recovery may not be possible. However, there are treatment options that will help reduce noise.

Also explore general information on the causes of tinnitus.

What will happen when I visit the doctor?

Your first visit with an ENT will involve a detailed evaluation of your medical history. Your doctor will ask about any underlying conditions or illness, possible triggers, and about the noise you are hearing. The doctor will also ask you about your prescribed or over the counter medications you take on a regular basis. Finally, the doctor will try to access the level of psychological strain caused by tinnitus. Be prepared to answer any questions your doctor may have. All of this information will help determine the course of treatment and whether or not you need to see an audiologist as well.
Once your medical background is evaluated, your doctor may carry out a series of auditory tests, including a hearing test and a balance test. With the results of the tests, the ENT doctor can determine whether you also have hearing loss or a disorder of the auditory system. Finally, the actual tinnitus test is conducted. The test will determine at which frequency your tinnitus noise is ringing. By doing this, the doctor can find out which frequencies the noise covers, and how it can be treated.

What types of tinnitus treatment are there?

There is no one size fits all cure for tinnitus. Your doctor will select the ringing in ears treatment depending on your perceived noise level. Most chronic sufferers use a combination of medication and therapy to alleviate the symptoms of tinnitus. 
For acute tinnitus, noise in the ears that lasts up to three months, treatment with medication that stimulates circulation, such as cortisone, is proven to be effective. For some people, medication is all that is needed to recover from tinnitus. Unfortunately, medication is not an effective ringing in the ears treatment for symptoms that persist longer than three months. However, there are options that can help you cope with chronic tinnitus.
Tinnitus retraining therapy
For chronic tinnitus sufferers, the most successful treatment method is TRT, or tinnitus retraining therapy. This therapy involves learning how to cope with your tinnitus on a conscious and subconscious level. The goal is to have the patient be able to suppress their perception of the noise so that their mind gradually gets used to the noise and no longer allows it to be dominant or distracting. 

TRT is suitable for people with slight or chronic tinnitus. The most successful patient will offer consistent and active cooperation fusing the treatment. 

The three cornerstones of tinnitus retraining therapy include:
Education and Advice 
By conducting an intensive evaluation of the patient’s medical history, the doctor and therapist can effectively determine the right course of action to treat the patient. 

Sound Therapy 
With the use of devices worn behind the patient’s ear, broad-band pleasant noise is generated to divert the attention of the patient away from the noise in their ears. By concentrating on pleasant sounds such as fountains, the sounds of nature and music, the tinnitus will be suppressed into the background.

Increasing Psychological and Physical Wellbeing
Stress is a trigger and a side effect of tinnitus. Psychological therapy uses various relaxation techniques and teaches the patient to ignore the tinnitus noise. The exercises may include yoga and tai chi, cognitive behavioral therapy, and counseling. Though relaxation and stress management, it’s possible to reduce anxiety and divert concentration away from the tinnitus noise.
Hearing aids and noisers
Hearing aids can work as masking devices for tinnitus sufferers. Your ENT may recommend a hearing aid with a tinnitus noiser along with your retraining therapy. Hearing aids help tinnitus patients by compensating for hearing loss due to the noise in the ears and they also distract the patient from the constant white noise buzzing in their ears. 

Tips for dealing with tinnitus

Living with acute or chronic tinnitus can cause severe stress and anxiety. However, there are a few steps you can take to help reduce or eliminate tinnitus.
Reduce stress: Find a relaxation technique that suits you the most.
Stop smoking: Nicotine and other chemical stimulants can promote tinnitus.
Eat well and exercise: Physical activity helps reduce stress and distracts you from the sounds of tinnitus. A healthy diet will improve your overall health.
Sleep: Well-rested patients experience less intensive chronic tinnitus symptoms. 
Have fun: Choose activities that you enjoy so that it will distract you from the noises in your ear.
Protect your ears: Always wear hearing protection when you are exposed to noise or loud music.

How can tinnitus be prevented?

Developing tinnitus increases with exposure to loud noises. If you can not have a normal conversation due to surrounding noise, then it’s too loud for your auditory system. Move away from the noise source or wear ear protection. Most importantly, don’t hesitate to seek medical help. See your doctor at the first signs of tinnitus or when it’s acute. The earlier you seek advice from an ENT doctor or an audiologist, the better your chances of recovery.

Other topics

Tinnitus Causes and Symptoms
Getting a Hearing Test
What is acute hearing loss?