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Many people experience an occasional ringing (or roaring, hissing, buzzing, or tinkling) in their ears. The sound usually lasts only a few minutes. Ringing in the ears that does not get better or go away is called tinnitus. You may hear a sound, such as a ringing or roaring, that does not come from your surroundings (nobody else can hear it). The sound may keep time with your heartbeat, it may keep pace with your breathing, it may be constant, or it may come and go. Tinnitus is most common in people older than age 40. Men have problems with tinnitus more often than women.
There are two main types of tinnitus.
The most common cause of tinnitus is hearing loss that occurs with aging (presbycusis), but it can also be caused by living or working around loud noises (acoustic trauma). Tinnitus can occur with all types of hearing loss and may be a symptom of almost any ear disorder. Other possible causes of tinnitus include:
Most tinnitus that comes and goes does not require medical treatment. You may need to see your doctor if tinnitus occurs with other symptoms, does not get better or go away, or is in only one ear. There may not be a cure for tinnitus, but your doctor can help you learn how to live with the problem and make sure a more serious problem is not causing your symptoms.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
The following tips may help you reduce symptoms of tinnitus.
While waiting to see whether tinnitus goes away, or if your doctor has advised you that your tinnitus will be present for a long time, try these methods to cope with the constant noise:
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:
You may be able to prevent ringing in the ears if you:
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:
|American Tinnitus Association|
|P.O. Box 5|
|Portland, OR 97207-0005|
This organization provides education and a network of services through clinics and self-help groups for patients with tinnitus. It also publishes a quarterly newsletter.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine|
|Last Revised||January 11, 2012|
Last Revised: January 11, 2012
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