Tinnitus

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a noise that you hear in one or both of your ears or in your head. It is a symptom, not a disease. Those who have it describe it as a ringing, buzzing, humming, heartbeat, or chirping noise.

Tinnitus can be heard by someone other than the person with the tinnitus, but only in rare circumstances

What causes tinnitus?

Tinnitus can be caused by damage, blockage, or an irritation of the hearing pathways. Or it may come from an area of the brain related to hearing. For example, it may be caused by:

  • wax buildup in the outer ear canal  

  • fluid in the middle ear  

  • damage or disease in the inner ear  

  • a tumor of the hearing and balance nerve.  

Some medicines can cause tinnitus.

Most cases of tinnitus are related to a hearing loss. If you have tinnitus, it should be evaluated by your Reddy Urgent Care provider initially.  Though a referral to an ear, nose and throat doctor may be required to find what is causing the tinnitus, whether it is related to a serious problem, and if it can be helped.

How is it diagnosed?

It is important to find the cause of tinnitus. As part of the evaluation, a hearing test (audiogram) will be done. Sometimes special hearing tests are done to look for a cause. Other tests that may be done at the discretion of the Reddy Urgent Care provide are a CAT scan of the ears and head or an MRI scan.

How is it treated?

Tinnitus may be treated by treating the underlying cause.

Often no treatment is needed because, other than having some ear noise, most people are not bothered by it and the underlying cause will not cause serious illness.

In cases that do need treatment, medicine may be used to lessen or stop the tinnitus. Sometimes surgery is needed. Surgery may be done to treat hearing loss or possibly remove a tumor.

When tinnitus is related to a hearing loss, hearing aids may reduce or stop the tinnitus.

Other possible treatments include masking devices, which make a noise that blocks the sounds of the tinnitus, and tinnitus retraining therapy.

How long will the effects last?

Many times tinnitus will lessen over time without treatment. Sometimes despite treatment, tinnitus does not get better.

How can I prevent or help my tinnitus?

Tinnitus is often caused by a loss of hearing. One of the most common causes for hearing loss (and tinnitus) is too much exposure to noise. Use of devices that protect your hearing, such as foam ear plugs or special ear muffs, can help.

Stress and lack of sleep can also worsen tinnitus. They may be the main reasons that the tinnitus is bothersome. Some foods and nonprescription medicines can cause or worsen tinnitus. For example, caffeine in coffee, tea and soft drinks can cause or worsen tinnitus. The medicine that most commonly can have this effect