5 Facts about ear ringing and tinnitus

Most of us will experience tinnitus at some point during our lives. For many people it will be a temporary experience that resolves itself without treatment. But, for others, it can become a permanent - and challenging - part of life and may also be an indicator that there is an underlying condition that needs some attention. While many of us experience tinnitus we often don’t know that much about it - here are 5 key facts about ear ringing and tinnitus.

  1. Tinnitus comes from inside your head. It may sound like it’s a noise in your external environment but it’s actually originating from inside the body, from the ear, the brain or the pathway between the two. The sound you hear could be a humming, ringing, buzzing or whistling. There are two main types of tinnitus - Pulsatile Tinnitus is usually triggered by noise from the blood vessels near the ear. Non-pulsatile tinnitus tends to be the result of abnormal activity in the brain’s auditory cortex.
  2. We tend to experience tinnitus as we get older. Aging is one of the most common causes of tinnitus, especially pulsatile tinnitus. For non-pulsatile tinnitus the cause is often ear-related disorders or exposure to loud noise that results in sensorineural hearing loss.
  3. Your tinnitus might require medical treatment. If you’re experiencing temporary tinnitus that you can feel in both ears, and which goes away on its own, then this isn’t usually the type of tinnitus that needs medical help. However, if you are experiencing other symptoms, such as dizziness, hearing loss or ear pain then something like an audiogram may be necessary to establish if there is hearing loss and any other conditions that need to be treated. If tinnitus is only happening in one ear then this is another indicator that seeing an ENT doctor is going to be essential.
  4. There are different approaches to treating tinnitus. For example, if it occurs with hearing loss then hearing aids can be used to suppress the sound in the ear. Where there is no hearing loss, the use of masking devices that supply background noise can make a difference. Therapy may be necessary to help with the emotional response to experiencing the tinnitus, making it feel less irritating and more like background noise.
  5. You can minimise your risk of having to deal with tinnitus, now or later in life. For example, if you’re in an environment where there is a lot of loud noise, make sure that you use hearing protection. That could be something as simple as the sound from a power tool or the noise on a firing range or in a club. You can also avoid tinnitus by minimising the time that you spend in environments where there is a lot of loud noise. When you’re listening to personal headphones keep the volume low to help avoid the damage that can go on to cause tinnitus.

If you’re experiencing ear ringing and tinnitus then these are the basic facts that you need to know.

Harley Street is the UK's foremost private medical centre which is dedicated to providing high-quality care for your ear, nose, throat, head & neck, and balance-related disorders. Find out more information on how Harley Street ENT can help you here.

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The Harley Street ENT clinic in London can provide all of the care that you need when you have an ear, nose, throat or balance problem. We ensure that you can get all of the right tests, treatments and advice in one convenient place.