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Tinnitus: Guide to treatment for ringing in the ears

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Symptoms of tinnitus

Tinnitus (pronounced tin-it-us) affects about 13% of the UK population (or 1 in 8). It's commonly caused by hearing loss or an ear injury. Tinnitus is often described as a ringing in the ears that only you can hear, but it can also be heard as a:

  • Hissing
  • Buzzing
  • Whistling
  • Roaring

People with tinnitus can also experience hearing loss. In fact, about 80% of people who suffer from tinnitus will have some degree of hearing loss. 

Signs and symptoms of hearing loss

Image shows a woman suffering from tinnitus

Online tinnitus test

People with tinnitus often experience hearing loss too. Our quick online tinnitus test can help give you an idea of whether or not you might have tinnitus and/or hearing loss, and what you can do about it.

Question 1
Do you ever experience ringing or buzzing sounds in your ear(s) when no external sound is present?
Do you ever have trouble falling asleep or concentrating due to any ringing or buzzing sounds in your ear(s)?
Do you ever have trouble following conversations because you don’t hear properly?
Do you find yourself turning up the volume on the TV or radio louder than normal?

Your result:

Indications of tinnitus and hearing loss

 

Your answers indicate that you may experience symptoms of tinnitus and hearing loss. We recommend that you visit one of our clinics. There are hearing aids that can treat your hearing loss and might give you relief from your tinnitus.*

* The result of the test may only be used for guidance. Official conclusions about hearing loss/tinnitus can be provided by our registered hearing care experts.



Book a FREE hearing test in a clinic near you

Your result:

Indications of hearing loss

 

Your answers indicate that you may experience symptoms of hearing loss but it's unlikely that you have symptoms of tinnitus. We recommend that you visit one of our clinics to to see if you have a hearing loss that should be treated.*

* The result of the test may only be used for guidance. Official conclusions about hearing loss/tinnitus can be provided by our registered hearing care experts.



Book a FREE hearing test in a clinic near you

Your result:

Symptoms of tinnitus indicated

 

Your answers indicate that you may experience symptoms of tinnitus. We recommend that you read about tinnitus treatment options to learn about how to cope with and find relief from tinnitus symptoms.*

* The result of the test may only be used for guidance. Official conclusions about hearing loss/tinnitus can be provided by our registered hearing care experts.

Your result:

Tinnitus or hearing loss unlikely

 

Your answers indicate that it is unlikely that you have tinnitus - or that you have non-bothersome tinnitus that is not currently affecting your everyday life. If you experience symptoms of tinnitus in the future, we recommend visiting one of our hearing clinics. 

* The result of the test may only be used for guidance. Official conclusions about hearing loss/tinnitus can be provided by our registered hearing care experts.

Step 1 of 5

What causes tinnitus?

There are many possible causes of tinnitus. The most common is exposure to excessive noise. This damages the tiny hair cells in the inner ear. The ringing in your ears is the result of your brain trying to compensate for the loss of hair cells.

Common causes of ringing in the ears include:

  1. Exposure to loud noise
  2. The natural ageing process
  3. Middle-ear infections
  4. Emotional distress
  5. Diabetes
  6. Negative reactions to medicines
  7. Neck or head injuries
  8. Hyperacusis (intolerance to noise)
  9. Other untreated medical conditions such as Ménière's disease, Otitis (a middle-ear infection), etc.

 Would you benefit from a hearing test?

Tinnitus treatment and prevention

There is no cure for tinnitus, but there are ways you can manage it and reduce its impact on your life. There are also measures you take to help prevent tinnitus. The following management techniques can be rather effective in turning a potentially negative and emotionally charged sound (tinnitus) into a neutral presence.

Illustration of man doing yoga
Relaxation and mindfulness
Yoga and meditation have been proven to be particularly effective in relieving tinnitus
Illustration of man with headphones
Sound therapy
Can help reduce the contrast between tinnitus and quiet environments
Illustration of shield with an ear
Hearing protection gear
Protection (such as earplugs) can help prevent further hearing damage caused by loud noise
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Hearing aids
Can make your tinnitus stand out less by amplifying sounds. Some devices have built-in sound generators

Sound therapy can provide relief from ringing in the ears

Although sound therapy can't get rid of tinnitus, it can be a helpful tool for managing the symptoms. With sound therapy, you listen to different, carefully selected sounds. These can help you feel that your tinnitus is reduced or temporarily gone.

It then becomes easier to focus on things other than your tinnitus. Plus, sound therapy helps you to focus on something more pleasant. You can find the sound therapy that gives you the most effective relief from ringing in the ears by working together with your hearing care expert.

Sound therapy can be provided through:

  • Tinnitus masking sound generator devices
  • Apps for tinnitus relief
  • Sound and sleep apps
  • Hearing aids with tinnitus sound therapy features
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Treating tinnitus with hearing aids

Hearing aids not only help with hearing loss, they simultaneously mask the sound of tinnitus by amplifying the sounds around you. This can result in reduced listening effort, a perceived reduction in tinnitus volume, and an improved ability to communicate with ease.


Most of our hearing aids offer sound therapy sounds that are customised to your individual needs and preferences.


Take a look at our hearing aids, many of which have tinnitus masking features:

Hearing aid brands and models

Tinnitus and hearing loss – do you have both?

Research shows that most people with tinnitus have some degree of hearing loss – even without being aware of it – and many of them can benefit from hearing aids.

80% of people with tinnitus also have hearing loss

Hearing aids can help transmit more sounds into the ear and brain, so they can reduce tinnitus symptoms. Improved hearing can also help you to focus on sounds other than tinnitus. For lots of people, this improvement is enough to experience relief.

Image shows a man suffering whilst working from tinnitus

Consequences of untreated tinnitus

Some tinnitus sufferers become sensitive to places with constant talking or loud music, so they begin to avoid social situations altogether. For others, it is so disturbing that getting a full night’s sleep can be difficult. If left untreated, tinnitus can lead to:

  • Anger
  • Concentration problems
  • Isolation
  • Depression
  • Sensitivity to places with constant talking or loud music
  • Sleep disorders, insomnia

Some people can ignore their tinnitus most of the time, but leaving it untreated can have a negative impact on your life if it's experienced over extended periods of time.

FAQs about tinnitus

Ash Tulley
Ashley Tulley, Hearing Aid Audiologist and Member of the Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists (MSHAA)

Ashley has worked at Hidden Hearing for 14 years, and has been fully qualified for 11 of those. He started out as a fitter in both the Stockport clinic and in the wider North West region before going on to become a full-time hearing aid dispenser. He is now currently the hearing aid dispenser in the Stafford clinic. He has been a practice educator and mentor to Hidden Hearing's new dispensers for the last 10 years. He has a foundation degree in hearing aid audiology.

Sources

1. Al-Swiahb, J., & Park, S. N. (2016). Characterization of tinnitus in different age groups: A retrospective review. Noise & health, 18(83), 214–219. https://doi.org/10.4103/1463-1741.189240

2. Beck D.L. (2012) British Academy of Audiology. Podium presentation.