Don’t let anyone tell you that the noises you hear are all in your head. In the case of tinnitus, they’re real, not just a myth. If you’re one out of every 10 Americans who have ringing in the ears, then surely you know how frustrating it can be. Tinnitus might be a minor annoyance for some people, but it can interfere with work and social life for others. No matter the severity, it’s distressing for most and could indicate an underlying medical condition.
If you or a loved one has a ringing in the ear, you're probably wondering if this is something you must live with forever. “Does tinnitus go away?” is a question frequently asked by people like you. While there's no simple answer, it helps to know what’s fact and fiction.
In this article, we provide a brief overview of tinnitus, debunk the most common myths, and explain whether it’s temporary or permanent. You’ll also learn about possible treatment options and tips for coping with tinnitus.
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus (often called “ringing in the ears”) is a hearing-related medical condition. People with tinnitus experience sound in one or both ears that doesn’t come from an outside source. These disturbing sounds are often described as ringing, but some people hear hissing, clicking, buzzing, chirping, or roaring. The sound may be loud or soft, low-pitched or high-pitched, and occasional or frequent.
Various research studies have reported that tinnitus occurs in 8–25% of the U.S. population, amounting to more than 50 million people. Tinnitus is commonly caused by exposure to loud noises, age-related hearing loss, and more than 450 medications. Keep in mind that your tinnitus could have no known cause and appear out of nowhere, making it difficult to answer the question: "Does tinnitus go away?"
Myth: Tinnitus Is a Disease
Tinnitus is not a disease but can be a symptom of various health conditions, including ear wax, trauma, tumors, infections, heart-related ailments, female hormones, and other issues. More recently, COVID-19 has been linked to tinnitus and hearing loss.
Effects of Tinnitus
Doctors have yet to understand how the brain produces the illusion of sound in the ears. Several theories on tinnitus attempt to explain it in terms of auditory and non-auditory systems. As a diverse hearing issue, tinnitus has numerous causes and affects people differently. Following are some of the many ways tinnitus impacts people's lives:
- Sleeping problems
- Trouble concentrating
- Social isolation
- Inability to work
Although some people may barely notice or be bothered by their tinnitus, others can experience a lower quality of life. With more severe and disruptive ringing in the ear, it makes sense to be concerned and wonder, "Does tinnitus go away?"
Myth: Tinnitus Means You're Going Deaf
Hearing loss is associated with tinnitus, but they’re separate conditions. About 90% of tinnitus patients have hearing loss. However, just because you have tinnitus doesn’t mean you’ll lose your hearing.
Does Tinnitus Go Away or Is It Permanent?
There’s no cure for tinnitus, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it's here to stay. It greatly depends on what caused your tinnitus, its severity, and other factors.
Sometimes people experience buzzing ears after noisy travel or brief exposure to loud music. In these cases, tinnitus typically goes away on its own in several hours or days. When exposure is repeated, tinnitus can come back. Prolonged exposure to loud sounds can cause chronic tinnitus that could become permanent.
Some ongoing types of tinnitus are temporary, especially if the underlying causes can be remedied. For example, tinnitus caused by a clogged ear often goes away following wax removal. At the same time, ringing in the ear due to injury or aging is likely permanent.
Myth: Tinnitus Is Nothing to Worry About
Rare bouts of tinnitus, such as after a long plane ride, are usually harmless and go away over time. Still, many cases are caused by underlying conditions and other hearing issues, some of which could be serious, like Meniere’s disease. Untreated issues, like earwax and ear infections, can also cause permanent damage. That’s why it’s vital to seek medical attention whenever you have ongoing ear problems.
If you think you have tinnitus, hearing loss, or another related issue, have it checked out. You can even take our free online hearing test to get started. It can be done from the comfort of your home and only takes a few minutes.
Treatment Options for Tinnitus
Since there’s no cure for tinnitus, prevention is essential whenever possible. This can be as simple as maintaining a healthy lifestyle (e.g., eating right, exercising, etc.) and avoiding loud noises (e.g., using earplugs).
A physician or hearing specialist can use an audiometer to measure tinnitus and must address persistent or worsening tinnitus. Once any underlying medical conditions are ruled out, treatment will depend on your particular case. Surgery is rarely an option, but there are quite a few ways to help you cope with tinnitus.
One of the most effective ways to treat ringing in the ear involves subjecting your ears to more sound. As absurd as that seems, sound therapy works for many people suffering from tinnitus.
Wearable and tabletop electronic devices ("sound generators") produce pleasant sounds in your ear that mask tinnitus. Depending on your preference, the sound can be soft “shhhhh” noises, random tones, nature sounds, or music. Some doctors prescribe antidepressants or antianxiety drugs for people with deafening ringing in the ear. When you have a mild case of tinnitus, a simple smartphone app or white noise from a fan might help, especially if you have trouble sleeping.
Myth: Eating Certain Foods Can Cure Tinnitus
While there’s no diet proven to treat tinnitus, eating healthy is always beneficial. Balanced meals can help prevent illnesses that could lead to tinnitus. It’s been suggested that alcohol, smoking, salt, sugar, and caffeine can trigger tinnitus, but there haven’t been enough studies to confirm.
Consider Using Hearing Aids to Help Tinnitus
By now, you should have a better idea of how to answer: "Does tinnitus go away or end up permanent?" While mild cases can be more easily ignored, loud and disruptive tinnitus can negatively impact your quality of life.
Even though there’s no cure, there are treatment options that might help.
Myth: Hearing Aids Don’t Help Tinnitus
This brings us to the final myth that we'll cover. You may be surprised to know that hearing aids are considered to be a form of sound therapy. Based on a hearing health professionals survey, hearing aids provided relief for the majority of tinnitus patients. This goes to show that you shouldn’t believe everything you hear—especially when it comes to tinnitus myths.
Many people with tinnitus and hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids fail to get the help they need. What was once too expensive is more affordable now than ever. Unlike traditional hearing aid providers, MDHearing cuts out the middleman, so you can get high-quality hearing aids for as low as $299 per pair—a major cost-savings over the national average of $4,600. Our FDA-registered hearing aids are shipped directly to your door for free and backed by a 45-day risk-free trial.
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