Munson Health
Ringing in the Ears

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by Wood D



Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of developing tinnitus include:
The Center for Communication and Hearing maintains an updated list of medications that are associated with tinnitus.


The sensations of tinnitus may have the following characteristics:
  • Ringing, roaring, buzzing, whistling, or hissing sounds
  • Intermittent, continuous, or pulsatile quality
  • Same or varying intensity
  • Single or multiple tones
  • More annoying symptoms at night or when there are fewer distractions
  • Sensation of normal internal events, such as blood pulsing or muscles contracting

When Should I Call My Doctor?

Call your doctor if you have tinnitus, especially if it:
  • Is associated with hearing loss, vertigo, change in personality, speech, or weakness in any body area
  • Starts after head or neck injury
  • Is associated with new medication
  • Is pulsatile
  • Is associated with pain in the ear, fever, nausea, or vomiting


Tinnitus treatment depends on what is causing the symptoms. This may mean:
  • Wearing a specially made splint to help manage temporomandibular joint disorder
  • Taking antibiotics for a sinus or ear infection
  • Having the wax removed from your ear canal
  • Stopping or changing medications to see if tinnitus goes away
Therapy aims to eliminate or reduce bothersome sensations. Treatment may include:


No medication has been shown to be very effective in treating tinnitus. Your doctor may still try to use some medications to ease your symptoms. These may include antidepressants and sedatives.
If you have Meniere's disease, your doctor may prescribe medication to treat that condition.

Mechanical Devices

Devices include:
  • Hearing aid —sometimes relieves tinnitus and improves hearing in some people with hearing loss
  • Tinnitus masker—a device that emits a low level of white noise to help cover up the internal sensations and block out external noises

Lifestyle and Self-care Measures

Measures to discuss with your doctor if no cure or specific treatment is available include:


Surgery may help relieve certain causes of tinnitus. These include:
  • Tinnitus caused by a tumor frequently subsides after the growth is removed
  • Abnormalities in blood vessels that lead to tinnitus can sometimes be corrected with surgery
  • Surgery may also be an option for patients with Meniere's disease, but it is usually done only for disabling vertigo


American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery

American Tinnitus Association



The Canadian Hearing Society

Canadian Society of Otolaryngology



About tinnitus. American Tinnitus Association website. Available at: . Accessed September 20, 2013.

Acute otitis media. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated June 3, 2013. Accessed September 20, 2013.

Conn HF, Rakel. Conn’s Current Therapy. 54th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2002.

Goroll A, Mulley A. Primary Care Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000.

Tinnitus. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: . Accessed September 20, 2013.

Tinnitus. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated July 1, 2013. Accessed September 20, 2013.

Tinnitus. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: . Accessed July 7, 2009.

10/16/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Baldo P, Doree C, Lazzarini R, Molin P, McFerran D. Antidepressants for patients with tinnitus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(4):CD003853.


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