Ringing in the Ears: What Does it Mean and What to Do About It

woman covering her ears
Share this post:
  • Tinnitus is the perception of noise in the ears or head that isn’t caused by an external sound, such as a ringing, buzzing, humming, or hissing.
  • Common causes of tinnitus include exposure to loud noise, ear infections, certain medications, and age-related hearing loss.
  • Treatments for tinnitus include sound therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, medications, and relaxation techniques.
  • It would be best if you avoided exposure to loud noise by wearing earplugs and practicing relaxation techniques to manage tinnitus symptoms.

If you’ve ever experienced a high-pitched noise or ringing in your ears, then you have experienced tinnitus. This is a common problem that affects millions of people around the world. While it’s not a disease, it can indicate an underlying condition. This article will cover what tinnitus is, what causes it, and what you can do to alleviate its symptoms.

Understanding Tinnitus

Tinnitus is the perception of noise in your ears or head that isn’t caused by an external sound. This noise could be a ringing, buzzing, humming, or hissing. It can be intermittent or constant and can vary in volume. Tinnitus isn’t a disease but a symptom of an underlying condition, such as hearing loss, age-related hearing loss, exposure to loud noise, earwax buildup, or ear infections.

Causes of Tinnitus

Tinnitus is characterized by the ringing, buzzing, or hissing sound in the ear, even when there is no external noise. The sound can be constant or intermittent, ranging from mild to severe. The causes of tinnitus are numerous, and they can vary from person to person. Here are the common causes of this condition:

Exposure to Loud Noise

One of the most common causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noise. This can happen at work, during recreational activities such as concerts or sports events, or from headphones or earbuds. Loud noise damages the hair cells in the inner ear that are responsible for transmitting sound to the brain.

This damage can lead to tinnitus and other hearing problems, such as hearing loss. If you work in a noisy environment, it is essential to wear ear protection, take breaks, and avoid prolonged exposure to loud noise.

Ear Infections

doctor checking a patients ear

Ear infections can also cause tinnitus, especially if they are severe or chronic. Conditions can cause inflammation and fluid buildup in the ear, affecting hearing and leading to tinnitus. Other ear-related problems, such as Meniere’s disease, otosclerosis, and acoustic neuroma, can cause tinnitus. See your doctor immediately if you experience ear-related symptoms, such as pain, discharge, or sudden hearing loss.


Certain medications can cause tinnitus as a side effect. Drugs that can cause or worsen tinnitus include aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antibiotics, diuretics, and antidepressants. If you take any medication and notice tinnitus symptoms, speak to your doctor about alternative options. Do not stop taking your medication without your doctor’s approval.

Age-related Hearing Loss

As we age, our hearing tends to decline, and this can lead to tinnitus. Age-related hearing loss is called presbycusis and can affect people starting in their 50s. Presbycusis affects the inner ear’s hair cells and can cause tinnitus, hearing loss, and difficulty understanding speech. If you notice any hearing-related symptoms, visit your doctor, and get a hearing test.


Although there may be no known cure, tinnitus treatment can alleviate symptoms and improve a sufferer’s quality of life. Different forms of treatment can include sound therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medications. Sound therapy involves using white noise or calming sounds to distract from the ringing.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy involves addressing any underlying psychological issues that may exacerbate the symptoms. Medications can also be prescribed, including antidepressants, antianxiety drugs, and even a low dose of anti-seizure medicine.

Managing the Symptoms

putting ear plug in

There are also several things you can do to alleviate the symptoms of tinnitus. One of the most important things is to avoid exposure to loud noise, either by wearing earplugs or limiting your exposure to noisy environments.

You can also try relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, to help you manage stress, which can exacerbate tinnitus symptoms. Additionally, some people find relief through sound therapy, which involves listening to white noise or other soothing sounds to mask the sound of tinnitus.

Final Thoughts

Tinnitus can be frustrating and sometimes debilitating, but it’s important to remember that there are ways to manage its symptoms. If you’re experiencing tinnitus, the first step is to see your doctor and get a proper diagnosis. From there, you can explore options for treatment and management.

Remember to protect your hearing, such as wearing earplugs in loud environments and practicing relaxation techniques to manage stress. You can live a whole and active life with the right care, even with tinnitus.

Scroll to Top