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Ringing in the Ears
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- Cochlear damage from noise exposure
- Hearing loss
- Damage to the auditory system
- Occupations or activities that expose you to loud noises
- Wax or a foreign body in the ear canal
- Certain medications, such as aspirin, antibiotics, or diuretics
- Toxins, such as heavy metals, carbon monoxide, or alcohol
- Certain health conditions, such as:
- Blood vessel disorders, such as an aneurysm, fistula, or hardening of the arteries are associated with pulsatile tinnitus
- Fluid in the ear
- Ruptured membrane in the ear
- Injury to the head or neck
- Ringing, roaring, buzzing, whistling, or hissing sounds
- Intermittent, continuous, or pulsatile quality
- Same or varying intensity
- Single or multiple tones
- More annoying symptoms at night or when there are fewer distractions
- Sensation of normal internal events, such as blood pulsing or muscles contracting
When Should I Call My Doctor?
- Is associated with hearing loss, vertigo, change in personality, speech, or weakness in any body area
- Starts after head or neck injury
- Is associated with new medication
- Is pulsatile
- Is associated with pain in the ear, fever, nausea, or vomiting
- The sensations that you have
- The factors that may increase or decrease the sensation
- The medications that you take
- History of trauma
- Auditory brain response
- Electrocochleoraphy—to test for Meniere's disease
- Wearing a specially made splint to help manage temporomandibular joint disorder
- Taking antibiotics for a sinus or ear infection
- Having the wax removed from your ear canal
- Stopping or changing medications to see if tinnitus goes away
- Hearing aid —sometimes relieves tinnitus and improves hearing in some people with hearing loss
- Tinnitus masker—a device that emits a low level of white noise to help cover up the internal sensations and block out external noises
Lifestyle and Self-care Measures
- Stress management and relaxation techniques
- Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Joining a support group .
- Avoid anything that makes tinnitus sensations worse, such as:
- Exercise regularly to improve circulation
- Make time to relax and get enough sleep
- Playing a radio or a white-noise machine for about 30 minutes at bedtime may help relieve the ringing sensations at night
- Tinnitus caused by a tumor frequently subsides after the growth is removed
- Abnormalities in blood vessels that lead to tinnitus can sometimes be corrected with surgery
- Surgery may also be an option for patients with Meniere's disease, but it is usually done only for disabling vertigo
- Avoid exposure to excessive noise.
- Wear earplugs in noisy situations.
- Wear earmuffs when mowing the grass.
- Learn and practice stress management and relaxation techniques.
- Limit use of medications that damage hearing.
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery http://www.entnet.org
American Tinnitus Association http://www.ata.org
The Canadian Hearing Society http://www.chs.ca
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology http://www.entcanada.org
About tinnitus. American Tinnitus Association website. Available at: http://www.ata.org/for-patients/about-tinnitus . Accessed September 20, 2013.
Acute otitis media. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated June 3, 2013. Accessed September 20, 2013.
Conn HF, Rakel. Conn’s Current Therapy. 54th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2002.
Goroll A, Mulley A. Primary Care Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000.
Tinnitus. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Tinnitus . Accessed September 20, 2013.
Tinnitus. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated July 1, 2013. Accessed September 20, 2013.
Tinnitus. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/tinnitus.cfm . Accessed July 7, 2009.
10/16/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us : Baldo P, Doree C, Lazzarini R, Molin P, McFerran D. Antidepressants for patients with tinnitus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(4):CD003853.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 09/2013
- Update Date: 09/30/2013