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Eye and Ear Problems

Tinnitus

Prevention - Home Treatment - When to Call a Health Professional

 

Most people experience occasional ringing (or roaring, hissing, buzzing, or tinkling) in their ears. The sound usually lasts only a few minutes. If it becomes persistent, you may have tinnitus.

Tinnitus is usually caused by damage to the nerves in the inner ear resulting from prolonged exposure to loud noise. Other causes include excess earwax, ear infection, dental problems, head or ear injuries, and medications, especially antibiotics and large amounts of aspirin. Excessive alcohol or caffeine intake can also cause tinnitus. In rare cases, tinnitus can be caused by a brain tumor.

Most intermittent tinnitus does not require medical treatment. However, if tinnitus is accompanied by other symptoms, becomes persistent, or starts to localize to one ear, a visit to a health professional usually is needed. Often there is no cure for tinnitus, but your health professional can help you learn how to live with the problem.

Prevention

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Follow the Prevention tips for Hearing Loss on See Prevention.

Home Treatment

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  • Cut back on or eliminate alcohol and beverages containing caffeine.

  • Limit your use of aspirin and ibuprofen.

  • If you think earwax may be the cause of tinnitus, see Earwax on See Earwax.

When to Call a Health Professional

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  • If you have new tinnitus with other symptoms such as significant hearing loss, vertigo (See Dizziness and Vertigo), loss of balance, nausea, or vomiting.

  • If tinnitus develops after an injury to the head or ear.

  • If tinnitus lasts longer than 4 weeks despite Home Treatment

 

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