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Is Tinnitus a Permanent Condition or Can it Go Away in Time?

a cupped hand to an ear

Realizing that you have tinnitus isn’t always a pleasant experience. Suddenly you hear unexplained noises in your ears that don’t appear to have an external source. And unlike in the past, they don’t go away. Instead, they persist, even at night, when you’re trying to get to sleep. 

Many people who get tinnitus, therefore, wonder whether the condition is temporary or here to stay. 

Tinnitus can go away in some cases

For some people, tinnitus is a transient condition. Their brain hallucinates sounds for a while, but then it disappears before coming back. Tinnitus, therefore, is prone to flare-ups. Sometimes it is worse and sometimes better. 

Researchers think that tinnitus results from a lack of stimulation of the auditory cortex - the part of the brain responsible for processing incoming sounds. If the brain receives less stimulation - because, perhaps, you have hearing loss - you are at a much higher risk of developing the condition. Without signals coming through, the brain tries to fill the void by simulating sounds as if they are real. These hallucinations can last anywhere from a few seconds to weeks at a time. 

Exposure to loud noises can lead to short-term tinnitus

For many people, tinnitus is nothing more than a temporary inconvenience - something that lasts just a couple of minutes - perhaps a day at most. Those who get this type of tinnitus, however, usually have a history of exposure to loud noises.

It is not uncommon, for instance, to experience tinnitus-like symptoms at the end of a loud rock concert. As you leave the venue, you can sometimes notice a high-pitched humming in your ears. 

Treat this as a warning. Usually, any ringing will pass, but it indicates the need to wear hearing protection in the future. 

Hearing aids can also make tinnitus go away

Hearing loss is one of the primary driving forces behind tinnitus. If your ears can no longer transmit signals to the brain, then they can’t give it the stimulation it needs to remain functional. Eventually, it begins to create noises with no external cause. 

Hearing aids, however, go some way to reversing this process. By amplifying the sounds that reach the inner ear, assistive hearing devices act as a signal booster, helping more information flow along the auditory nerve. The brain then has more data to work with, allowing it to perform its regular function. Many people with hearing loss find that when they wear hearing aids, their tinnitus slowly diminishes over time. For a group of patients, it disappears altogether.

Manufacturers also make hearing aids with special technology designed to counteract the symptoms of tinnitus. Devices will often have a white noise setting that many patients find pleasanter than their regular tinnitus humming, buzzing or ringing. The sound provides the brain with sufficient stimulation to sometimes keep the unwanted noises at bay. 

Tinnitus is sometimes permanent

There are cases, however, where tinnitus is permanent and does not go away, even after wearing hearing aids. Having tinnitus long-term can be distressing because of the way that it impacts quality of life. People who have the condition can find it difficult to sleep or concentrate on their work. 

Over the years, however, practitioners have developed a range of techniques designed to manage the disease. 

The most popular form of treatment is cognitive-behavioral therapy. The purpose here isn’t to get rid of the source of the tinnitus but, instead, to improve the patient’s attitude towards it. Therapists provide techniques for managing the mental response to tinnitus. They teach people to stop seeing it as a bad thing and learn to make peace with it. 

Of course, not all therapy sessions are successful. For some people, tinnitus can become a life-long burden. The best approach here is to combine therapies. Both wearing hearing aids with white noise features, and going for counseling can improve quality of life. 

Permanent tinnitus is usually a sign of hearing loss

The most common cause of tinnitus is experiencing hearing loss. Thus, depending on the nature of your condition, you may be able to go to the root of the problem and prevent unwanted sounds in the first place. Clearing out impacted wax, for instance, restores your hearing and, by proxy, helps to eliminate tinnitus. 

Are you currently experiencing symptoms of tinnitus? If so, then you may need a hearing aid. 

Our team at Stanwood Hearing is here to help. We provide advice and guidance on which hearing aids to choose. Call us at 360-502-4644 to find out more today.