Tinnitus is when you hear a ringing or buzzing in your ears, but the noise you hear isn’t caused by an external sound, it’s an elusive and confusing condition. For some, it lasts mere moments, and for others it’s a constant annoyance. And there are even some cases of permanent tinnitus.
No matter how long tinnitus may last, there’s one thing we all share, the desire to get rid of it. And while there is no cure for tinnitus, there are ways to counteract its effects. In this article, we’ll learn about temporary and permanent tinnitus, its causes, and look into strategies to alleviate the discomfort associated with it.
How Long Will Tinnitus Last?
How long your tinnitus lasts will largely depend on its cause and a few other factors. Tinnitus is rarely permanent, and while there is no cure for it, discovering its cause can go a long way in helping it feel less obtrusive, and even go away.
If you’ve just gotten back from a 3-day music festival with loud music and your ears are ringing, you can expect tinnitus to fade away sometime between 16 to 48 hours. However, symptoms have been known to last as long as two weeks. If you have tinnitus lasting for two weeks or longer, go see an audiologist. The sooner you get professional help, the better your chances of finding relief you can depend on.
While it’s impossible to know for sure whether or not the tinnitus you’re experiencing is temporary or not, there are a few helpful hints to look out for. If the tinnitus is happening without any other causes or symptoms like hearing loss or ear fullness, then it is likely temporary. Other signs that it may be a short-term disturbance are:
- It doesn’t last long
- It occurs intermittently
- It is soft and easy to ignore
For the most part, tinnitus tends to last 16-48 hours, and in more severe cases, around two weeks. If your tinnitus is lasting longer than two weeks, then make an appointment with an audiologist to see what’s going on. With their help, you’ll be able to discover what the cause is and go over different ways to address the issue together. Even if it doesn’t feel too bad, don’t ignore it if it’s been over two weeks.
Causes of Permanent Tinnitus
In some cases, tinnitus can be permanent, and the cause could be related to a variety of reasons, like:
- Hearing loss from natural aging
- Exposure to loud noises
- Sudden hearing loss
- Different autoimmune diseases
- Damage to the auditory nerve
It’s difficult to know whether or not tinnitus is here to stay, but there are a few clues to look for to determine whether you should seek help. If the tinnitus you’re experiencing matches the description below, then make an appointment with an audiologist today.
- It lasts longer than two weeks
- It is difficult to ignore
- It seems to be constant
- It happens in addition to hearing loss or other symptoms
Can you relieve tinnitus?
The best way to treat tinnitus is to address the underlying cause of it, which is usually hearing loss. If the cause isn’t hearing loss, you may still find success with sound-based therapies.
- Hearing aids help you hear better, which could help distract from the ringing in your ears.
- Sound masking devices will help drown out the sound of tinnitus making the condition more tolerable.
- Sound machines are medical-grade devices that create sounds customized to target an individual’s tinnitus. They are used occasionally, with the goal being to provide a long-term improvement from tinnitus.
- Behavioral therapy is helpful for those patients who need to learn to cope with the effects of tinnitus.
- Anti-anxiety and anti-depressive medications have helped others deal with their tinnitus when other solutions don’t work.
Can you live normally with tinnitus?
Yes! And while it may be uncomfortable, there are strategies to help.
If the tinnitus is caused by excessive earwax, an audiologist can easily remove it. Usually, the cause is unknown, which is why experimenting to find the best solution is key. Such as:
- For those experiencing tinnitus due to hearing loss, hearing aids may be the answer as they help you hear better, which could distract you from the ringing in your ears.
- Others find that using sound masking devices helps drown out the sound of the tinnitus, making it less noticeable.
- There are medical-grade devices known as sound machines that create a customized soundscape designed to target each individual’s tinnitus. The idea is to use the machine occasionally to train the brain away from noticing tinnitus on a long-term basis.
- Sometimes addressing the anxiety and stress caused by tinnitus is the best way to help, like cognitive behavioral therapy, or medication to address anxiety and/or depression.
Why is Tinnitus Sometimes Irreversible?
Sometimes the root cause of tinnitus is uncommon, which could mean the tinnitus is irreversible, such as:
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): Most sounds are processed in the brain, and after a traumatic brain injury, brain processors could begin to misfire, leading to tinnitus.
Hearing loss: Tinnitus and hearing loss often go hand in hand, which means irreversible tinnitus may be part of your hearing loss experience.
Repeated Exposure to loud sounds: If you expose yourself to loud sounds often and repeatedly, then there’s a good chance you’ll experience permanent hearing damage, which can include tinnitus as a symptom.
Thankfully, temporary tinnitus is more common, but chronic tinnitus still affects millions of Americans each year.
How Do You Get Your Tinnitus to Subside?
Whether you experience tinnitus constantly, or every few weeks, one thing is for certain, you want to find relief for it. There are a few different methods out there that can help.
Relax: Reducing anxiety and stress can help tinnitus feel less powerful. High blood pressure can sometimes make tinnitus worse, so keeping your emotions in check is helpful.
Cover it up: Sometimes using a white noise machine or fan can help cover up the sound of tinnitus, making it easier to cope with.
Protect yourself: If you’re going to be in loud environments, then protect your hearing by wearing earplugs. And whenever possible, try to stay away from loud environments in general, because prolonged exposure to loud sounds is a risk factor for tinnitus.
While there is no cure for permanent tinnitus, you have control over what you choose to do to address it in the best way possible for your needs.
How Long Before Your Tinnitus Goes Away?
For most people, tinnitus will go away on its own. In these cases, your hearing should return to normal within 16 to 48 hours. In more extreme cases, it can take around two weeks. If you’ve been experiencing tinnitus for longer than two weeks, you should make an appointment with an audiologist. You should also see an audiologist if you notice any sort of hearing loss, or even just a change in your hearing in addition to the tinnitus.
Your hearing is critical to your cognitive function, so it’s important to stay on top of your hearing health. It’s easy, all you have to remember is: when in doubt see an audiologist.
Bottomline: Does it go away or not?
In most cases, tinnitus goes away, and it does so on its own. However, that is not always the case, and it largely depends on what is causing it to begin with. By taking a look at your whole hearing health picture, you should be able to determine whether or not tinnitus is visiting or here to stay. Like with any other medical condition, it’s important to get a professional medical opinion from an audiologist who will be able to provide you with options for treatment and guidance.