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What is tinnitus? What are the signs of tinnitus? Is it hearing loss or something else? And how should we treat tinnitus?

Is your tinnitus the result of an ear infection, an inner ear problem, or something else entirely?

Answering these questions can help you determine what to do about your tinnitus and how to address it moving forward.


First, let’s cover what tinnitus is and isn’t. While many people use these terms interchangeably, there is a difference between hearing loss and tinnitus.

Hearing loss occurs when damage to hair cells in your inner ear prevents you from hearing sounds at specific frequencies; when you have tinnitus, the damage has not occurred, but you experience sounds regardless.

Also, tinnitus can be perceived differently from person to person; one person may hear a high-pitched noise while another experiences low-frequency vibrations.

Tinnitus can be quite distressing for some people, and treatment management is available for those whose cases are especially severe.

While tinnitus requires a multi-faceted approach, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) paired with hearing aids often proves effective.

That said, diagnosing and treating tinnitus can be tricky—it doesn’t always mean your ears are malfunctioning! If you’re experiencing symptoms that could indicate hearing loss or other medical issues (and don’t seem related to tinnitus), we recommend scheduling an appointment with an audiologist.

One final point: A visit to an audiologist doesn’t mean you have hearing loss—you will get peace of mind knowing for sure whether or not your situation warrants professional intervention.

To treat residual symptoms once treatment ends, consider investing in sound machines like white noise devices to mask the unwanted sound. It’s also important to stay aware of potential red flags in your day-to-day life.

Are you dealing with loud environments regularly? Make sure you take regular breaks so that your ears have time to rest.

It’s also wise to turn down your volume settings on TV and computer screens before they start affecting your hearing levels.


There is not one single cause of tinnitus, and no two cases are exactly alike. While no single test can determine if you have tinnitus, your doctor can diagnose it by asking about your symptoms and running a hearing test.

Your audiologist can also conduct other tests to help determine what may be causing your tinnitus.

If you suspect that your symptoms may be due to noise-induced hearing loss, you should ask your doctor for an audiogram as part of your exam.

This measures whether a hearing has been affected by exposure to loud sounds to pinpoint when the damage occurred and how much damage was done.

The type of tinnitus you experience depends on which parts of your auditory system have been damaged.

The three main types include:

  • Hyperacusis (abnormally low tolerance to specific frequencies).
  • Tolerance (becoming accustomed to background sound).
  • Fatigue (feeling overwhelmed by noise).

Although some people who suffer from tinnitus find that listening to music helps soothe their ears, most find solace in other activities like learning more about their condition or joining support groups.

Regardless of where your particular case falls along these lines, all forms could benefit from treatment—including remedies explicitly designed for ear pain relief.

As with any condition affecting the quality of life, treatment options should always be discussed with your doctor or audiologist before deciding on a course of action.

Treatment methods vary depending on the patient’s needs but always involve careful planning and discussion with a doctor.

Choosing a non-invasive procedure first helps ensure successful long-term management of tinnitus.

Surgery will likely be needed only as a last resort for patients whose ears cannot adjust themselves using less invasive treatments; researchers expect future development in cochlear implant technology to lead to more surgical approaches being conducted without removing tissue from patients’ heads.

For now, many methods remain experimental; only time will tell which ones prove most effective at helping patients manage their symptoms effectively without intrusive surgery.


The short answer to that question is no. People with tinnitus don’t always have hearing loss, and those with hearing loss don’t always have tinnitus.

The fact is most people who experience tinnitus don’t even know they have it until someone notices and points it out to them.

According to an online survey done by Hearing Review in 2012, 53% of respondents experienced persistent ringing in their ears at least once a week for three months.

That number jumped up to 79% when narrowed down only to those diagnosed by a medical professional—meaning that more than half go undiagnosed each year.

That statistic makes sense, considering how common (and often dismissed) tinnitus can be.

But just because you can live with it doesn’t mean it should fly under your radar.

To help keep track of whether your symptoms are worth speaking to your doctor about, we’ve compiled a list of top five warning signs you might have tinnitus:

  1. Ringing or buzzing sounds become bothersome.
  2. You constantly notice your sounds and forget that others do not hear them as well.
  3. The sound becomes so loud and unbearable that it keeps you from enjoying life, sleeping soundly at night, or concentrating on work.
  4. The sound interferes with your daily activities such as reading work emails on your computer screen, eating meals with others, working out at a gym, listening to music (even in the background), watching movies/TV shows/videos/YouTube videos, etc., participating in a conversation with another person via phone/Skype, etc., paying attention during business meetings, etc.
  5. You have pain in your ears after a recent injury or trauma.


There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer to how you should treat your tinnitus. Treatments depend on your symptoms, cause, severity, and medication tolerance.

What works for one person may not work for another. But several standard treatment options can help ease tinnitus symptoms.

About 75% of people find relief from their symptoms with these treatments.

The most commonly used treatment is sound therapy (also called tinnitus retraining).

This involves wearing a device in your ear that produces soothing sounds such as ocean waves or crickets chirping instead of masking them with other noises.

This is usually done through headphones, but some devices are worn in-ear, so others around you don’t hear what you’re listening to.

Other therapies include anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs, acupuncture, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Discuss these types of alternative remedies with your doctor to see if they might be right for you.

Remember: No matter what kind of treatment you choose, be sure to consult with an audiologist who’s been trained to identify risks associated with noise exposure so that you can make informed decisions about which level of protection is best for you.

For example, suppose ringing has been caused by long-term exposure to loud noise at work or leisure activities like using power tools or riding motorcycles.

In that case, professional protection like custom-made earplugs might be necessary and avoiding noisy environments when possible.


“I tried medicine to deal with my tinnitus, but I didn’t like them at all. That’s when I decided to find out if there was any other way to deal with my tinnitus without medicine”- Patient at Hearing Excellence.

The good news is that there is! Coping with your tinnitus doesn’t involve taking a pill; you can focus on other health and lifestyle changes that may help reduce your tinnitus symptoms.

Changing your diet, exercising regularly, practicing relaxation techniques, and having a positive attitude toward living with tinnitus are all things you can do.

All of these changes will help improve how you feel mentally and physically—which means they can also help ease your anxiety about dealing with your condition.

Additionally, you can learn more about coping with tinnitus by attending tinnitus therapy sessions and tinnitus support groups for people who have tinnitus.

These meetings are helpful because they let you talk to others who know what it’s like to live with tinnitus and offer opportunities for networking where people share advice and experiences that might be useful in managing their symptoms.

Overall, staying busy while still practicing healthy habits is an excellent way to cope with any stressor—including living with tinnitus symptoms!

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