Have you ever experienced whistling, buzzing or hissing sounds in your ear? If so, you don't need us to tell you how irritating it can be. These nuisance sounds can make falling asleep difficult, and they can cause stress, anxiety and irritability in the people experiencing them. In clinical terms, these sounds are related to tinnitus, a common symptom of age-related hearing loss, ear injury and certain medical conditions. Tinnitus can also be noise induced.

If you have ever experienced tinnitus, then you will understandably want to know the answer to the question of our title. Is it a permanent condition? Or can it go away in time? 

Well, it depends.

If tinnitus occurs because of a one-off exposure to a loud noise, or if it is a side-effect of a certain type of medicine or an allergic reaction, then it might subside within a day or two. However, ongoing exposure to loud noises can affect the hearing, so tinnitus may become permanent should hearing damage occur. Tinnitus can also become permanent if auditory damage occurs because of a medical condition.

Let's have a closer look at the main causes of tinnitus to determine whether the issue could be temporary or permanent. 

The main causes of tinnitus

  • Noise: If you have ever experienced a ringing noise in your ears after a loud concert, then chances are, the sounds you heard should have disappeared hours after leaving the venue. The same applies to any other occasional noisy situation you may have found yourself in. However, some people have particularly sensitive ears, and hearing damage can sometimes occur because of the loud noises they have experienced. In these cases, tinnitus could become permanent. Prolonged exposure to noisy environments can also cause hearing damage and trigger long-term tinnitus. Those people who work with heavy machinery daily could be affected. 
  • Earwax: Excessive earwax buildup can be a common cause of tinnitus, but after a qualified professional has removed the wax, the sounds related to tinnitus should disappear. However, if you try to remove the blockage yourself, you could worsen the issue if you poke too far and rupture your eardrum. This can worsen the issue. Tinnitus should still go away over time, but probably not before you have been treated by an audiologist. 
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions can cause tinnitus. These include cardiovascular disorders, such as high blood pressure and metabolic disorders, such as diabetes. The medication used for such conditions can also cause tinnitus. Once the underlying condition has been treated, tinnitus will usually go away. However, where a medical condition has caused auditory damage, tinnitus may become permanent. 
  • Allergies: Allergies that impact the ear can cause temporary tinnitus, and so can some of the medications used to treat them. Thankfully, once the allergy has ended, tinnitus should usually go away.
  • Hearing loss: Unfortunately, normal aging can lead to hearing loss, so many of us can experience tinnitus later in life as changes occur in the ear. Prolonged exposure to loud noise can also lead to hearing loss, so we might also experience tinnitus therefore, people with hearing loss can also pick up on the sounds of tinnitus more frequently than those who don't, as they won't be able to hear the environmental sounds that would otherwise mask it. 

Tinnitus: Temporary or permanent?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. As we have seen in our brief look at the main causes of tinnitus, it can disappear on its own, but if auditory damage is a consequence of one of the causes, then tinnitus symptoms may persist in the long-term. 

Whatever the case, if you are experiencing tinnitus, make an appointment with an audiologist. He or she will be able to diagnose the reason behind the nuisance phantom sounds in your ear and will suggest a cause of action.

If tinnitus is a temporary symptom of something else, you will soon be able to carry on with life as normal after a solution has been found. If you are experiencing hearing loss because of damage to your ear, then tinnitus won't go away so easily. However, there are ways to mask the sounds you are hearing, perhaps with a specific hearing aid device fitted to your ear, so you won't have to put up with those ringing and hissing sounds.

For more advice, get in touch with us at (888) 701-1441. Here at Audiology Associates, we are committed to helping you with all aspects of your hearing health, so don't hesitate to reach out if you suspect you have hearing loss, or if you are concerned about any other aspects related to your hearing.