If you’re experiencing a ringing in your ears, you are experiencing what your audiologist will refer to as tinnitus. It’s a symptom that’s related to a wide range of hearing issues and can be experienced by people in different ways for a range of different reasons. It’s not a condition in and of itself, but rather a symptom linked to everything from exposure to loud noise to Meniere’s disease.
The frequency, sound and length of the bouts of tinnitus can differ from person to person. However, what most people who experience it want to know is whether or not it is permanent or will go away with time. To give a proper answer, it’s important to remember that tinnitus is different for every person. We have to look at the symptom in more detail.
Will your ears ring forever?
There are those who will experience tinnitus as a long-term or even permanent symptom in their life. However, for the vast majority of people, it’s a temporary symptom, often caused by exposure to noise levels above 75dB. It can be caused not only by very loud, brief occasions like attending a firework show or concert but also by repeated exposure to lower levels of unsafe noise, like spending the day inside a crowded and noisy office.
In most cases, tinnitus will disappear within two days, usually lasting between 16 to 48 hours. In some cases, however, a person’s hearing health history and other lifestyle factors can influence their experience of tinnitus. It could last as long as two weeks and be exacerbated by further exposure to loud noises.
Some evidence has suggested that even temporary tinnitus can become chronic. As such, it’s always recommended to make an appointment with your audiologist if tinnitus lasts longer than 48 hours or if you’re generally worried about the severity of the ringing in your ears.
What leads to permanent tinnitus?
While exposure to loud noise will usually result in temporary tinnitus, there are more permanent, or chronic, cases to be aware of as well. Here are some of the most prevalent conditions that can lead to potentially permanent tinnitus:
- Hearing loss and tinnitus are very closely linked. If you are developing one of the symptoms, then you may be developing the other, as well.
- Consistent exposure to loud noises can cause both hearing loss and chronic tinnitus.
- Physical injuries to headcan lead to traumatic brain injury. These injuries can affect both how you hear sound through your ears and how the brain processes the sounds transmitted by the ears, which can present as ringing in your ears.
While permanent tinnitus is not as common as a temporary case of ringing ears, it still affects millions of people. As such, you should see your audiologist as soon as possible if the potential causes of your tinnitus lie outside the usual.
Can the ringing in your ears be cured?
Ringing ears, or tinnitus, is not a specific condition. As mentioned, it’s a symptom that can be caused by a variety of hearing and ear health issues. Sometimes, treating underlying causes, such as earwax blockages or ear infections, can cure it, but that is not guaranteed. However, your audiologist can offer a variety of ways to prevent it from exacerbating and to tinnitus treatment options.
For instance, your audiologist can offer advice and help to choose protection to avoid loud noises and environments. Not being in such environments is recommended, but not always possible, so your audiologist can help you select and order hearing protection, including custom-made earplugs. These can protect you from the excessive noise levels that can make tinnitus work.
Your audiologist may also recommend taking measures to manage any stress that you might be experiencing. High blood pressure is linked to bouts of tinnitus, and lowering your stress levels and relaxing can help lower it again.
There are devices your audiologist can recommend that can help you deal with the sound of tinnitus, as well. For instance, there are white noise machines that can drown it out, which are especially useful at night, since many people have trouble sleeping with ringing ears. Your audiologist may also recommend tinnitus masking devices which are worn like hearing aids throughout the day.
Get in touch if you’re worried about the ringing in your ears
The team at Flynn Associates is ready to help any patients who may be experiencing tinnitus, especially those who have experienced ringing ears for over 48 hours. You can reach our qualified hearing professionals at the following numbers:
- Concord office at (978) 369-6666
- Wellesley office at (781) 235-8110