Did you know that up to 20% of the population can be affected by tinnitus, or ringing in the ears? While it is very common, it can be a very frustrating condition. There are many possible causes of tinnitus, and it can occur in different parts of the ear. But what many people want to know is, does tinnitus go away?
Types of Tinnitus
Tinnitus can be described as a ringing, buzzing, humming, whistling or other sound that is heard in the ear, but not caused by an actual external sound. The source of the sound could be from any part of the auditory system, which includes the brain and the inner, middle and outer ear. There are two types of tinnitus:
- Subjective tinnitus. When you hear the ringing, buzzing or humming noise inside your head, this is subjective tinnitus. Only you can hear the sound.
- Objective tinnitus. When the clicking or pulsing noise can be heard by you and a doctor during an ear evaluation, this is objective tinnitus. This can be a more serious form of tinnitus.
The two main types of tinnitus can be caused by a variety of factors. The type of tinnitus can help in the diagnosis of the source of the sound and may offer help in the treatment.
Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus occurs for many different reasons. Often it is due to an injury or condition inside the ear, but not always. The possible causes range from the foods, substances and medications you ingest to infections and damage to the ear or brain. Some of the most notable causes of tinnitus include:
- Ear drum damage
- Ear infections
- Excess ear wax buildup
- Loud noise exposure
- Degenerative hearing loss
- Medications – antibiotics, aspirin, sleeping pills, steroids and many other drugs list tinnitus as a possible side effect
- Stress or high blood pressure
- Food and beverages – caffeinated beverages, salty foods, aspartame and other edible substances can cause tinnitus
- TMJ disorder
With so many factors that cause tinnitus, it can be difficult to determine the cause without a medical exam and diagnosis. If you are wondering, “How long does it take for tinnitus to go away?” or “Is tinnitus permanent?” it will depend on what is causing the tinnitus.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Tinnitus
Many times, tinnitus goes away on its own and does not require diagnosis or medical treatment. For example, if you attend a loud sports event or concert, you may experience ringing in the ears for a few days, but usually you will quickly have signs that tinnitus is going away. But this is not always the case.
If you have had tinnitus for a week or longer, you may want to schedule a visit to your doctor. Your primary care physician can perform routine exams and tests to determine if there is a common source for your ear ringing. Some of the tests that may be performed include:
- Checking the inside of your ears for wax buildup, ear drum damage and other physical abnormalities
- Hearing test
- Examination of the neck, head and nerves
- Blood and spinal tests
If the standard exam or tests are not conclusive, your primary doctor may refer you to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist for further evaluation.
Does Tinnitus Go Away with Treatment?
The right treatment or changes in your lifestyle may be all you need to get relief from your ear noises. Simply avoiding substances that are causing your tinnitus could relieve your symptoms, such as cutting out caffeine or items with aspartame. You may have signs that tinnitus is going away in just a few days.
Treatment for tinnitus usually begins with conservative therapies or lifestyle changes. Many people get relief from having ear wax removed or an ear infection treated. Other natural treatments can include listening to white noise to get to sleep or reducing stress, loud noise and certain drugs.
When initial treatments do not work, many patients wonder, “Is tinnitus permanent?” This is rarely the case, but if relief cannot be found through conservative treatments, medication or other therapies may be recommended. In rare cases, surgery may be needed if the cause is a tumor or other treatable condition.
How Long Does It Take for Tinnitus to Go Away?
Most people do not need to live with tinnitus for long. It is common for it to come and go, lasting a few days then disappearing for weeks, months or years. If it continues to linger, finding the source can offer treatment options. TMJ, high blood pressure, ear infection or allergy treatment may relieve tinnitus.
If you experience tinnitus and want to know, “Does tinnitus go away?” make an appointment with your doctor. Most cases of tinnitus are temporary, but it can be a symptom of a serious condition.