Tinnitus is the term used to describe the perception of sound in the absence of an external source. It is often characterised as ringing, buzzing, or whistling in the ears, but may also include complex sounds such as music.
Though tinnitus can be distressing for some people, it does not affect everyone in the same way. For most people, tinnitus only lasts for a short period before going away on its own. However, some cases are more severe and require further treatment from your doctor if you want to get rid of tinnitus permanently.
Causes and symptoms of tinnitus
Tinnitus is a common condition and can range from mild to severe, with some people experiencing only occasional tinnitus and others experiencing it constantly. While tinnitus can be caused by a variety of things, the most common causes are exposure to loud noise, age-related hearing loss and ear infections. Many times the underlying cause is not found.
In some cases, tinnitus can also be a symptom of certain underlying medical conditions, such as Meniere’s disease, middle ear fluid,or a vestibular neuroma.
Tinnitus can take many forms, but there are some common symptoms including:
- Ringing in the ears
- Buzzing or whooshing sounds
- Humming sounds
- Clicking noises
- High-pitched ringing, roaring or whistling noises that are only heard when you’re quiet or in a very quiet room
- Pulsatile tinnitus – a noise in one or both ears that sounds like a heartbeat
How long does tinnitus last?
It can be difficult to tell how long tinnitus will last, as it depends on the person and its underlying cause. Tinnitus is often temporary and goes away by itself, but for some people it lasts for years—or even permanently.
The length of time that tinnitus symptoms last depends on whether your tinnitus was a one-time event or caused by repeated exposure to loud noises over time. If you suddenly heard a very loud noise that made you feel like your ears were ringing, then the sound may go away on its own within a few days or weeks. Or if you’ve been exposed to loud sounds repeatedly over time (for example, if you worked in construction), then the ringing in your ears may last longer than this initial reaction period and can potentially result in a chronic tinnitus.
Chronic tinnitus, which is tinnitus that lasts for more than six months, can last for years or even a lifetime. However, with proper treatment, the symptoms of tinnitus can be managed and the individual’s quality of life can be improved.
How to treat tinnitus
There are several ways to treat tinnitus. The most common treatment is a hearing aid, which can help reduce the volume of the ringing sound in your ears and lessen its impact on your life. If you do have a hearing loss along with tinnitus, it’s important to have both treated at once so that neither condition gets worse.
Tinnitus can also be managed. Managing your tinnitus means working with your healthcare provider to find ways to make the noise less intrusive—for example, with hearing aids or maskers that deliver low-level sounds into your ear canal at the same time as you hear high-pitched noises like ringing and buzzing.
If you have tinnitus, it can be a very distressing condition. However, there are treatments available to help you manage the symptoms. It is important that you are assessed to find out if there is an underlying cause for your tinnitus particularly if it is in just one ear.
Mr Olarinde is an experienced ENT consultant who can help you find relief from your tinnitus symptoms and decide if there is an underlying cause. You can book a consultation online or get in touch by calling 0114 321 6522.