Does Tinnitus Go Away on Its Own? Or Do You Have to Live With Your Ears Ringing?

Having a buzzing feeling in your ears may not be the worst thing that can happen. But if it happens constantly, it can definitely be irritating. So getting rid of it is what the sufferers think about.

But what is the nature of this disease? Does tinnitus go away? If it doesn’t, what can you do to minimize it? That’s what we’ll be talking about here.

Does Tinnitus Go Away?

The answer to, does tinnitus go away, isn’t so simple. Tinnitus can be caused due to a variety of reasons. It can result from damage or abnormalities of many different parts of your hearing system.

does-tinnitus-go-away

Some damages are permanent while others are temporary. So in some cases, your tinnitus can go away on its own. But in some cases, even medical intervention might not be enough to completely cure you.

To understand this whole thing better, let’s take a look at how tinnitus develops.

What Is Tinnitus?

To put it simply, tinnitus is a feeling of ringing in your ears. But this varies from person to person and you might even experience sounds like buzzing, whistling, hissing, clicking, etc. You may experience this in one of your ears or both of your ears.

You may not even notice it all the time. It may even fade in with the background noise. And you may only realize it’s there when it’s quiet outside.

Tinnitus can be a one-time thing for many people. But for some, it can recur. The duration of this varies from person to person as well.

what-is-tinnitus

Tinnitus is a more common problem than you might think. In fact, it affects around 30% of the adult population in the United States. So, if you’re experiencing this, then know that you aren’t alone.
Tinnitus can happen in many different ways. So, it’s useful to classify this condition. Generally, there are two types of tinnitus:

  • Subjective tinnitus: This is the most common type of tinnitus. Here, the sound experienced by the patient can’t be detected in any way from the outside. So, the problem lies within the hearing system of the patient.
  • Objective tinnitus: In this type, the sound can be detected from the outside. This means that in this type of tinnitus, a physical abnormality is producing the continuous sound. In this case, the abnormality lies in the muscles and bones of the middle ear cavity.
  • There is also a third type of tinnitus called pulsatile tinnitus. But this is a part of objective tinnitus. There is an abnormality in the blood flow in the arteries near the ear. In this case, the patient can hear the tinnitus with their own pulse, hence the name, pulsatile tinnitus.

What Can Cause Tinnitus?

Tinnitus can occur due to any abnormality in the hearing system. The way you hear sound is quite complex. The sound waves cause vibration in the eardrums. This vibration is carried by the three small ear bones to the inner ear, the cochlea. This is a snail-shaped organ with several tiny hairlike projections which vibrate due to the wave and generate signals.

This signal is carried by the auditory nerves to the brain. This is an oversimplification of the process involved. However, with this, you can understand that any disease or condition affecting these structures can lead to tinnitus. That being said, let’s take a look at the most common causes of tinnitus:

Loud Sounds

This is the most common way in which tinnitus occurs. Loud sounds are nothing new to us. And for rock music enthusiasts or some particular professions like construction or factory work, loud sounds are a part of the normal routine.

loud-sounds

But these noises can take a toll on the hearing system. And this isn’t apparent until it’s too late. Loud sounds can cause damage to the cochlear hearing system. The hair cells which generate the signals can be damaged due to the loud sounds.

You can experience tinnitus if you’ve been exposed to an abnormally loud sound once. Or it may even occur if you’ve been exposed to loud sounds repeatedly. This type of tinnitus is accompanied by some degree of hearing loss as well.

Medication

Many drugs can cause tinnitus. These are ototoxic drugs. Normally, this type of tinnitus is dose-dependent. That means that, the more the dose of the drug, the more tinnitus. So, if you’ve developed tinnitus after beginning a drug regimen, it’s likely to be the cause.

Some drugs which can cause tinnitus are loop diuretics, certain antibiotics, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), aspirin, hypertension medications like beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, etc. Withdrawal of benzodiazepines can also cause tinnitus.

Ear Canal Blockage

Sometimes, ear wax can block the ear canal. This can cause an abnormality in sound conduction. And so, your eardrums might not vibrate as they normally do. Thus, this can be perceived as tinnitus in some cases.

ear-canal-blockage

Normal Aging Process

With age, there is a decline in the performance of the body. The ear is no exception. So, age-related hearing loss can cause tinnitus too sometimes.

Infection

Harmful bacteria and other pathogens can cause infection in the external and middle ear. This can lead to fluid buildup due to inflammation. The abnormal fluid inside the canal can cause the feeling of tinnitus. Infection can cause damage to the eardrums as well.

Trauma and Injury

Trauma to the head and sometimes the neck can cause injury to the structures involved in the hearing process. This can cause tinnitus as well.

Meniere’s Disease

This is a disease that commonly causes tinnitus. In this case, the cochlea is affected. The fluid surrounding the hair cells called endolymph, increases which causes abnormality in hearing. You might also have episodes of dizziness, migraine, vertigo, etc. if you have this condition.

meniere’s-disease-treatment

Others

Problems with the muscles and bones of the ear like osteosclerosis, muscle spasm, etc. can also cause tinnitus. Tumors in the brain or transient ischemic attack (where the blood supply to the brain suddenly stops) can present with tinnitus as well. And rarely, chronic conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune disorders can also be the culprit.

When Will Tinnitus Go Away?

Now we can finally get to the answer to our question today, does tinnitus go away? Just like any other medical condition, curing the cause provides relief to tinnitus.

But sometimes, that’s not the case. Tinnitus can be permanent in those cases. And in some other, tinnitus can subside temporarily but flare up later on. On average, tinnitus can last from anywhere between 15 hours to 2 days.

If you’re wondering, does tinnitus caused by medication go away, then you’re in luck. Because tinnitus caused by infection and drugs is mostly reversible. Treating the infection with proper drugs can do the magic. And stopping the ototoxic drugs or changing medication can make the tinnitus go away.

However, in the unlikely case that there was permanent damage to the hearing system, tinnitus might not go away completely. It goes without saying that you have to consult a doctor in these cases.

Tinnitus caused by loud sounds can be of different intensities. If you’re someone who experiences tinnitus after suddenly being exposed to a loud sound, it’s probably nothing serious. It will go away on its own in a few hours.

However, if you’re someone who’s always exposed to loud sounds or has some hearing loss, then it may be permanent. In that case, the only way is to control the condition.

If tinnitus is caused by some other diseases, then you’ll likely get some remission by controlling/curing those conditions.

What Is the Treatment for Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is sometimes permanent. But that doesn’t mean that you’ll have to live with the constant suffering. Scientists and therapists have developed effective ways to minimize the effects of tinnitus.

So if you’re suffering from tinnitus, it is best to seek professional help. Your doctor can assess how much the damage is and refer you to an ENT doctor or an audiologist if necessary.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help to deal with tinnitus. In this approach, the patients aren’t actually cured. Rather, therapists find a way to minimize the effects of tinnitus on the day to day life.

Hearing aids with special background noise features, masking devices, etc. are in use for tinnitus. However, they may not work for all cases.

What Can You Do to Help?

Here are a few things you can do to minimize the effects of tinnitus yourself:

  • Try to avoid places where you can be exposed to loud sounds. These can make tinnitus worse.
  • But, try to avoid completely quiet rooms as well. Because it might make the tinnitus more noticeable.
  • You can also protect your ears by wearing earplugs in the workplace.
  • Regularly cleaning out ear wax can help as well.
  • You can try to keep yourself distracted by doing things you enjoy during an episode of tinnitus. Try putting in some background white noise too.
  • Finally, try to manage stress as best as possible and get enough sleep. Your attitude towards tinnitus can influence how bad you feel. So try to keep a mind free of anxiety.

Conclusion

Although it might not sound like much, tinnitus can be difficult to deal with. So, the question, does tinnitus go away, is something which a lot of people think of. The answer isn’t so simple, it depends on the cause of tinnitus. It’s always best to see your doctor. And even if it is permanent, there are proven ways to deal with it.

FAQs

How long does tinnitus usually last?

Tinnitus can last anywhere between a few hours to a few days. Most commonly, it goes away within a day or two. But in some cases, it can last for months or even be permanent.

Can tinnitus be permanent?

Yes, tinnitus can be permanent. If there is associated hearing loss and permanent damage to the auditory system, tinnitus can be permanent.

Can tinnitus go away after years?

There have been some cases where tinnitus healed spontaneously after years. In some cases, the brain can dull out the constant ringing. But more often than not, tinnitus stays. So, if you’re suffering from tinnitus for a few days, it’s best to contact your doctor.

Samin Ishmam

I'm an aspiring medical student. Studying for tests is a huge part of my life right now, but I try to keep up with the latest innovations in science by reading research papers and attending conferences. My interests lie mainly in cardiology among other fields of medicine. And I love being able to help people get through the low points in their lives, which is why I've chosen this field as my profession. Outside of studies, I love writing and trying to spread knowledge on healthy living among everyone.

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