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How long does tinnitus last?

People who hear ringing in their ears often wonder how long will tinnitus last and will it eventually go away. These are great questions. Let’s discover more about this bothersome issue.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is any perception of sound without an external stimulus. It is from Latin, “tinnire” to ring. It may sound like:

    • Ringing
    • Buzzing
    • Static
    • Roaring
    • Hissing
    • Electricity
    • Crickets
    • Pulsating
    • Whooshing
    • Musical or speech-like (rare)
    • Different from hallucinations which involve meaningful speech

Types of Tinnitus:

  • Objective (Rare): Potentially measurable and heard by an observer.
  • Subjective (Common): Only perceptible to the individual.
    • Primarily due to abnormal neural activity either in the brain or the nerves of the auditory system.
    • Ear Noise (Very Common) – Subjective tinnitus that comes and goes.

Did you know? In 1953, Heller and Bergman showed that 97% of normal hearing adults perceived phantom auditory signals when placed in silence for 5 minutes.

Who Has It?

The first written history of ringing or noises in the ear is from Ancient Egypt in the 16th Treatment involved herbs and oils poured into the ears. Well known people throughout history with tinnitus include Joan of Arc, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vince, Ludwig van Beethoven, Vincent Van Gogh, and Charles Darwin. Current celebrities with tinnitus include almost every professional rock musician. Others include William Shatner, Keanu Reeves, Sylvester Stallone, Steve Martin, etc.

What Causes It?

Tinnitus is not a disease. It may occur as a symptom of specific diseases or conditions. It is a common symptom of hearing loss. Other common causes are obstructions in the middle ear, Treating the cause is an effective option to managing tinnitus.

Is there a cure?

  • Unfortunately, there is no magic pill that can cure tinnitus.

What about gingko?

  • Please check with your Primary Care Physician before using. Gingko is a blood thinner.
  • Some patients find that gingko helps with their tinnitus.

Tinnitus checklist:

  • An appointment with your Primary Care Physician who may refer you to see an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor (Otolaryngologist or ENT) or an Audiologist.
  • See an Audiologist for a comprehensive hearing evaluation (audiological evaluation).

An audiological evaluation by an Audiologist will tell us a great amount of information about your auditory pathway.

  • You may have hearing loss.
    • 80% of tinnitus patients have hearing loss.
    • 80% of hearing loss patients have tinnitus.
    • Are you a hearing aid candidate? If you are a hearing aid candidate, treating your hearing loss may be the best solution to decreasing your tinnitus.
    • Treating the hearing loss with hearing aids can alleviate the perception of tinnitus.

Will Tinnitus Go Away?

If your tinnitus is non-bothersome and intermittent, then you are successfully managing your tinnitus. Tinnitus that does not elicit a negative emotional response is easy to habituate to. Most people can habituate! Emotional symptoms sometimes accompany tinnitus. It is the emotional reactions to tinnitus that cause the tinnitus to be problematic.

The three primary areas affected by tinnitus are concentration, sleeping, and hearing. Anxiety and depression are also experienced with tinnitus.

  • Normal hearing with tinnitus
    • Sound therapy: people do better with sound. You can use sounds that you already have, including a fan, noise machine, or an app on your phone (Resound Relief, for example). An enriching sound environment reduces tinnitus.
    • Avoid noisy hazardous environments or wear hearing protection when in these environments, including concerts, bars, clubs, using machinery, shooting guns, etc.

Need help with your tinnitus? Call us at 415-346-6886 to request a hearing evaluation and tinnitus consultation.