Ringing in Ear (Tinnitus)

Tinnitus is the sensation of a ringing or buzzing in the ears that may occur sporadically or last indefinitely. As many as 1 in 5 Americans experiences this annoying condition at least occasionally.

Types of Tinnitus

tinnitusTinnitus can be either pulsatile or nonpulsatile in nature. Pulsatile tinnitus is caused by muscle movements around the ears and blood flow in the neck and face, and often seems to keep time with your pulse or heartbeat. Nonplusatile tinnitus is characterized by sounds originating from inside your head, and is caused by nerve damage to the ears.

Causes of tinnitus, which may be described as a ringing, buzzing, hissing, roaring, or whooshing sound in the ears, vary. Presbyacusis – age-related hearing loss – is a primary contributing factor, but not the only one. Other possible causes of tinnitus include noise exposure, earwax, head trauma, ear infections, ruptured eardrum, vascular disorders, neurologic problems, alcohol consumption, and medications.

Treating Tinnitus

Since tinnitus can be caused by so many different factors, some of them serious, it’s a good idea to see a doctor if you are suffering from prolonged ringing in the ears. If the underlying condition isn’t easily identifiable or can’t be treated, there are steps you can take to reduce its impact on your life.

The most effective treatments usually involve home remedies. Reducing your consumption of beverages that contain alcohol and caffeine can make a difference. Quitting smoking, starting an exercise program, and avoiding aspirin may also help. Avoid noisy environments when possible, and be sure to wear ear protection if you can’t.

White noise and other masking techniques can help you sleep.