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General Medical Questions
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Question : I have a “tinging” noise inside my ear. What could it be?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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August 28, 2013
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Doctors call it tinnitus. It’s a sound that you hear in your ears or head that no one else can hear. It can sound like almost any sound you have ever heard. But it is often described as buzzing, humming, ringing, static, crickets or white noise. It can be soft or loud, off and on or constant, unchanging or ever changing.

Tinnitus is present in over 17% of the population. It’s more common in the older age groups. Its nature and actual cause remain a mystery.

Many treatments have come and gone for tinnitus. And many continue to be recycled. Herbal supplements, vitamin supplements, dietary restrictions and additions, electronic masking devices, holistic and spiritualistic approaches, and too many others to mention here have been or continue to be touted as the new cure. So far, none of them have shown any definite benefit in scientific studies.

With no knowledge of what actually causes tinnitus, any jump to a cure has to be considered blind luck. However, there are some things we know about tinnitus. Stress, fatigue, anxiety, and exposure to loud noise tend to make it worse. Any method that lessens one of these makes the tinnitus better.

Although it doesn’t actually make the tinnitus worse, you are much more likely to be bothered by it when a room is very quiet.

It helps to have a positive attitude when entering into any particular treatment. This eases anxiety — and almost always — tinnitus.

Future research focusing on ways to objectively measure tinnitus holds the key to understanding and eventually curing this common condition.

 

 

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