Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?

Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?

What Is Tinnitus?

- Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?

A ringing, swishing, or other noise in the ears or head when no external sound is present is called tinnitus. Usually, it’s more of a nuisance than a serious medical problem. In rare cases, it can be a sign of an underlying medical condition that needs attention. About 10% of adults in the U.S. have experienced tinnitus lasting more than five minutes.

Some Head Noise Is Normal

- Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?

Most people are unaware of the normal noises the body makes as our ambient environment masks them. If a person went into a soundproof booth these sounds would become evident. Anything that blocks the background noise of everyday life such as earwax, earplugs, or a foreign body in the ear can make people more aware of the natural sounds our body makes.

What Causes Tinnitus?

- Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?

There are numerous causes for tinnitus:

  • Fluid, infection, or disease of the middle ear bones or ear drum (tympanic membrane)
  • Damage to the microscopic endings of the hearing nerve in the inner ear, which can also occur with advanced age
  • Loud noise exposure, such as from firearms, or music at a concert
  • Medications
  • Meniere’s syndrome
  • In rare cases, tinnitus can be a symptom of a serious medical problem such as a brain aneurysm or acoustic nerve tumor.

How Is Tinnitus Evaluated?

- Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?

To diagnose tinnitus, a doctor will do a physical examination and ask you about your history, including whether the tinnitus is constant, intermittent, or pulsating (like the heartbeat, called pulsatile tinnitus), or if it is associated with hearing loss or loss of balance (vertigo or vestibular balance disorders). A doctor will usually order a hearing test (audiogram) for cases of unexplained tinnitus. Other tests may include an auditory brain stem response (ABR), a computerized test of the hearing nerves and brain pathways, computer tomography scan (CT scan), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan) to rule out a type of rare tumor.

What Is the Treatment of Tinnitus?

- Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?

Treatment for tinnitus depends on the underlying cause and may include medications in addition to home remedies.

Tinnitus Medications

- Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?

Tinnitus may disappear on its own or the person may need to learn to cope with it. Medications may be prescribed in some cases but there is no clear solution in most individuals. Medications may often be used to treat the psychological effects of anxiety or depression that may accompany the tinnitus. In these cases selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants such as sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil), or a benzodiazepine such as alprazolam (Xanax) may be prescribed. In the past the supplement niacin was recommended or the drug gabapentin (Neurontin, Gabarone) was prescribed but both have been shown to have no effect on reliving tinnitus.

Relief Remedies for Tinnitus

- Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?

Some home remedies may be helpful for some people:

  • Reduce or avoid caffeine and salt.
  • Quit smoking.
  • In some cases zinc supplementation in people who have low levels of zinc may be beneficial – further studies are needed.
  • Melatonin may help those who suffer with tinnitus, particularly those with disturbed sleep due to tinnitus.
  • Successful behavioral and cognitive therapies include retraining therapy, masking, and behavioral therapy.

Can Tinnitus Be Prevented?

- Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?

Some cases of tinnitus may be prevented by avoiding damage to hearing. The following slides discuss ways to protect yourself from noise-related tinnitus.

Tinnitus Prevention Tip #1

- Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?

Cotton swabs (Q-tips) should never be used to clean the inside of the ear. Pushing a swab into the ear can cause the wax in the ear canal to become impacted against the eardrum, causing tinnitus.

Tinnitus Prevention Tip #2

- Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?

If you work in an environment that is noisy, protect your hearing in the workplace. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) regulations have recommendations to protect hearing that include wearing earplugs or earmuffs. Follow any hearing protections set by your employer.

Tinnitus Prevention Tip #3

- Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?

Many recreational events such as concerts, sports, or hunting may come with loud noise that can bother the ears. Wear earplugs or earmuffs in these loud situations. Do not use tissue or cotton in the ears as these not only do not offer adequate protection against certain loud or high-pitched noises, they may become lodged in the ear canal.

Tinnitus Prevention Tip #4

- Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?

Keep the volume of music headphones at a reasonable level. If others can hear your music, or you are unable to hear the noise around you, the volume is too high.

Tinnitus Prevention Tip #5

- Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?

Many everyday noises may bother your ears. Even blow-dying your hair or mowing the lawn may require earplugs or earmuffs.

Tinnitus Prevention Tip #6

- Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?

Avoid or moderate use of alcoholic or caffeinated beverages. Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. Nicotine in tobacco products may reduce blood flow to the structures of the ear, leading to tinnitus.

Tinnitus Prevention Tip #7

- Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?

Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight can cause high blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure can cause sensitivity to noise and tinnitus. Exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet.

Is There Anything to Lessen the Intensity of Tinnitus?

- Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?

If you have tinnitus, there are steps you can take that may lessen the intensity of the sound:

  • Avoid places where there are loud sounds and noises.
  • Keep your blood pressure in check.
  • Reduce salt intake.
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine.
  • Stop worrying about the tinnitus. The more you concentrate on the noise, the louder it will become.
  • Get adequate rest.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Use masking noise such as a ticking clock, a radio, a fan, or white noise machine.
  • Biofeedback may help or diminish tinnitus in some individuals.
  • Avoid aspirin or aspirin products in large quantities.



  1. BigStockPhoto
  2. BigStockPhoto
  3. MedicineNet
  4. iStockPhoto
  5. iStockPhoto
  6. BigStockPhoto
  7. BigStockPhoto
  8. iStockPhoto
  9. iStockPhoto
  10. iStockPhoto
  11. iStockPhoto
  12. iStockPhoto
  13. BigStockPhoto iStockPhoto
  14. BigStockPhoto
  15. iStockPhoto
  16. iStockPhoto


  • National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD): “Quick Statistics.”
  • UpToDate: “Etiology and Diagnosis of Tinnitus.”
  • Vestibular Disorders Association: “What Is That Ringing In My Ears?”

© 2005-2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.


Related Posts

  • 100
    kEEnBt a200 150x150 - Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?Video:Channel:Healing TinnitusDuration:1:6Description:How to stop ringing in ears? Visit here http://www.tinitusnomores.com/ to cure your tinnitus problem ! You're about to discover how to eliminate your tinnitus within 2 months, gain significant relief in less than 7 days, banish tinnitus related symptoms such as: mild hearing loss, pain in the ear and…
    Tags: tinnitus, ringing
  • 100
    KgOWrXy0vDQ 150x150 - Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?Video:Channel:DrSpectraDuration:6:55Description:For more details: http://www.drspectra.com DrSpectra provides best proven tinnitus treatment based on Neuromodulation principle through non-invasive innovation Tinnitusrelief Devices that is medically tested solution on 1000+ patients. We have more than 90% Success rate.tags:Tinnitus, Tinnitus cure, What is tinnitus, Tinnitus meaning, Tinnitus causes, Tinnitus relief, Tinnitus remedies, Tinnitus sound, British…
    Tags: tinnitus, ringing
  • 100
    Txxw87mfThE 150x150 - Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?Ringing in your ears? You’re in good company. According to a national health study performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 45 million Americans suffer from ringing in the ears, or tinnitus. Nearly one-third of them find it so debilitating they seek medical attention for…
    Tags: tinnitus, ringing
  • 97
    Bc gEEjU5po 150x150 - Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?Video:Channel:WellnessLabsDuration:0:1Description:www.EarPerfect.com Get relief from ear pain and suffering caused by Tinnitus ringing in the ears and buzzing conditions. You do not need to suffer anymore from Tinnitus or ringing in the ear.tags:tinnitus relief, tinnitus treatment, ear ringing, tinnitus, cure tinnitus
    Tags: tinnitus, ringing
  • 97
    4fVS8VndRYI 150x150 - Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing? Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) is one of the less common symptoms of TMJ disorders. If you are experiencing tinnitus you might want to read the recently published article by the National Institutes of Health, Ringing in Your Ears?. Ringing in Your Ears? Get the Buzz on Tinnitus …
    Tags: tinnitus, ringing

Leave a Comment