Can Tinnitus Go Away on Its Own?

Reviewed on 10/7/2020

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus as a symptom of an underlying condition may be temporary, but chronic tinnitus usually does not resolve on its own.
Tinnitus as a symptom of an underlying condition may be temporary, but chronic tinnitus usually does not resolve on its own.

Tinnitus is a perception of a noise that seems to originate in the ear or head in the absence of an external source. It may be heard in one or both ears, sound as if it’s within or around the head, or be perceived as an outside distant noise. The sound may be constant or intermittent. 

Tinnitus is usually a symptom of another condition and while it can be annoying, it is not usually a sign of a serious problem.

What Are Symptoms of Tinnitus?

Tinnitus involves the perception of sound in the absence of an external source for that sound. 

The sound may be characterized as: 

  • A high-pitched steady tone (ringing) 
  • A pulsation that is rushing or humming 
  • Hissing
  • Swishing
  • Clicking
  • Chirping
  • Whistling
  • Roaring
  • Buzzing
  • Varying in intensity with exercise or changing of body position

Other symptoms that may accompany tinnitus include

What Causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is usually a symptom of something wrong with the auditory (hearing) system. It may be a result of:

  • Hearing loss
    • Age-related 
    • Noise-induced, such as from machinery, gunfire, or loud music, or even a short blast of very loud noise
    • Drugs induced
    • Ear trauma
  • Other health conditions
    • Stiffening of the bones in the middle ear (otosclerosis)
    • Tumors within the auditory system
    • Brain tumors
    • Diseases of the blood vessels or heart
    • Neurologic disorders
    • Genetic or inherited inner ear disorders
    • Disorders of the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint)
    • Severe anxiety
    • Neck injuries
  • Certain medications
  • Ear and sinus infections
  • Ménière’s disease
  • Hormonal changes in women
  • Thyroid abnormalities

How Is Tinnitus Diagnosed?

Tests used to diagnose the cause of tinnitus include: 

QUESTION

What is hearing loss? See Answer

What Is the Treatment for Tinnitus?

Treating tinnitus involves treating the underlying condition that is causing the tinnitus, as well as treating the tinnitus itself. There is no known cure for tinnitus, but depending on the cause, tinnitus might go away on its own. 

Treatment of tinnitus includes: 

  • Treatment for hearing loss 
    • Hearing aids 
    • Cochlear implants 
    • Surgery to the outer or middle ear
  • Stopping certain medications
    • If medications cause the tinnitus, stopping the medication can improve the tinnitus
    • Don’t stop taking any prescribed medication without first talking to your doctor
  • Treatment for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder 
    • Dental treatment 
    • Bite realignment
  • Behavioral therapies to cope with tinnitus
    • Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) involves retraining the brain to accept the sounds associated with tinnitus as normal, natural sounds rather than annoying sounds so patients become less aware of their tinnitus 
    • Masking devices resemble hearing aids and produce low-level sounds to help to reduce or eliminate the tinnitus noise 
      • White noise can also help mask tinnitus, such as a white noise machine, fan, radio on low volume
    • Biofeedback and stress reduction 
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches patients to manage psychological responses to tinnitus using coping strategies, distraction skills, and relaxation techniques
  • Other therapies 
    • Electrical stimulation of certain parts of the inner ear using electrodes placed on the skin or using acupuncture needles 
    • Acupuncture
    • Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) (experimental treatment)
  • Depression that may accompany tinnitus
  • Insomnia that may accompany tinnitus
    • Behavioral changes to improve sleep
    • Sleep medicines

What Are Complications of Tinnitus?

About one-quarter of tinnitus sufferers report increased tinnitus severity over time. Chronic tinnitus usually does not go away completely.

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Reviewed on 10/7/2020
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