What does it mean if I have ringing in my ears?

Symptom Database

If you’ve ever experienced a persistent ringing in your ears, you may be wondering what it means and if there is a way to stop it. This condition, known as tinnitus, can be quite bothersome and can significantly impact your quality of life. In this article, we will explore the causes of tinnitus, available treatments, and potential remedies to provide you with valuable insights and solutions.

Understanding Tinnitus

Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the ears or head without any external source. It is commonly described as a ringing, buzzing, hissing, or whistling sound. While it is not a disease itself, tinnitus is often a symptom of an underlying condition.

Possible Causes of Tinnitus

There are several factors that can contribute to the development of tinnitus:

  • Exposure to loud noises: Prolonged exposure to loud sounds, such as concerts or machinery, can damage the delicate structures in the inner ear and lead to tinnitus.
  • Hearing loss: Age-related hearing loss or damage to the auditory system can cause tinnitus.
  • Earwax blockage: A buildup of earwax can obstruct the ear canal and result in tinnitus.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as Meniere’s disease, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, and high blood pressure, can contribute to tinnitus.
  • Medications: Some medications, including certain antibiotics, antidepressants, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can trigger tinnitus as a side effect.

Tinnitus Treatment Options

While there is no known cure for tinnitus, there are various treatment options available to manage the symptoms:

Hearing aids

If tinnitus is accompanied by hearing loss, wearing hearing aids can help mask the ringing and improve overall hearing. Hearing aids amplify external sounds, making the tinnitus less noticeable.

Sound therapy

Sound therapy involves using external sounds to distract from the internal ringing. This can be achieved through the use of white noise machines, fans, or even smartphone apps that provide soothing sounds like rain or ocean waves.

Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT)

TRT is a form of therapy that aims to retrain the brain’s response to tinnitus. It combines sound therapy with counseling to help individuals habituate to the sound and reduce their emotional distress.


In some cases, medications may be prescribed to alleviate the symptoms of tinnitus. These can include antidepressants, antianxiety drugs, or even certain anticonvulsants.

Home Remedies for Tinnitus Relief

While professional treatment is recommended for severe or persistent tinnitus, there are some home remedies that may provide temporary relief:

Manage stress levels

Stress can exacerbate tinnitus symptoms, so finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as through exercise, meditation, or engaging in hobbies, can help reduce the impact of tinnitus.

Avoid loud noises

Protecting your ears from loud noises can prevent further damage and reduce the severity of tinnitus. Use earplugs or earmuffs when exposed to loud environments.

Limit caffeine and alcohol intake

Caffeine and alcohol can worsen tinnitus symptoms for some individuals. Limiting or avoiding these substances may provide relief.

Get enough sleep

Fatigue can make tinnitus more noticeable and bothersome. Ensuring you get enough restful sleep can help reduce the impact of tinnitus on your daily life.


Ringing in the ears, or tinnitus, can be a frustrating and disruptive condition. While there is no definitive cure, understanding the causes and available treatment options can help individuals manage their symptoms effectively. Whether through professional interventions like hearing aids or sound therapy, or through home remedies and lifestyle changes, there are ways to find relief and improve your quality of life. If you are experiencing constant ringing in your ears, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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