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Tinnitus (Ringing in Ears)
Tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. A common problem, tinnitus isn't a condition itself — it's a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss or ear injury.
Although bothersome, tinnitus usually isn't a sign of something serious. Although it can worsen with age, for many people, tinnitus can improve with treatment. Treating an identified underlying cause sometimes helps. Other treatments reduce or mask the noise, making tinnitus less noticeable.
Tinnitus involves the sensation of hearing sound when no external sound is present. Tinnitus symptoms may include these types of phantom noises in your ears:
To treat your tinnitus, our ear experts will first try to identify any underlying, treatable condition that may be associated with your symptoms. If tinnitus is due to a health condition, we may be able to take steps that could reduce the noise. Examples include:
- Changing your medication. If a medication you're taking appears to be the cause of tinnitus, your doctor may recommend stopping or reducing the drug, or switching to a different medication.
- Earwax removal. Removing impacted earwax can decrease tinnitus symptoms.
- Treating a blood vessel condition. Underlying vascular conditions may require medication, surgery, or another treatment to address the problem.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Often, tinnitus can't be treated. Some people, however, get used to it and notice it less than they did at first. For many people, certain adjustments make the symptoms less bothersome. These tips may help:
- Avoid possible irritants. Reduce your exposure to things that may make your tinnitus worse. Common examples include loud noises, caffeine, and nicotine.
- Cover up the noise. In a quiet setting, a fan, soft music, or low-volume radio static may help mask the noise from tinnitus.
- Manage stress. Stress can make tinnitus worse. Stress management, whether through relaxation therapy, biofeedback, or exercise, may provide some relief.
- Reduce your alcohol consumption. Alcohol increases the force of your blood by dilating your blood vessels, causing greater blood flow, especially in the inner ear area.