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How to Know if a Tinnitus is Temporary or Not?

a woman experiencing ear discomfort

Hearing loss is incredibly common. Over five percent of the world's population – that's 466 million people – experience some degree of hearing loss. One of the most common forms of hearing loss experienced by many people is called tinnitus. There is a great deal of misinformation out there about tinnitus and how it actually works. One of the most common misconceptions that a lot of people have is that tinnitus is always permanent. This simply isn't the case. There are plenty of situations in which tinnitus can be temporary. With that in mind, here are some ways that you can tell whether or not tinnitus is temporary.

What is tinnitus?

Simply put, tinnitus is the same given to the condition wherein you hear noises that are not caused by any outside source. These kinds of sounds can include but are not limited to, ringing, buzzing, humming or whooshing sounds. These kinds of sounds can be heard in one or both ears or can often be heard in your head. It is experienced by around 15-20% of people worldwide. Tinnitus can often come and go, but you may also experience these kinds of sounds all the time.

Tinnitus is not a condition in and of itself but is often a symptom of some kind of underlying condition such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder. However, there are other potential causes of temporary tinnitus that you should be aware of. Here are some of the signs that your tinnitus may be temporary.

You've recently been ill

A lot of people start to notice symptoms of tinnitus when they have a cold. This is often because the cold has developed into an ear or sinus infection. This kind of infection can impact your hearing and increase the pressure in your sinuses, leading to the phantom sounds that are the sign of tinnitus. Some people continue to experience tinnitus even after the sinus infection has cleared up and they feel entirely healthy. This is very common and, most of the time, the symptoms of tinnitus will go away shortly after.

There are other conditions like fibromyalgia and Lyme disease that can trigger ringing in your ears, as well as an inner ear disorder called Meniere's disease. An injury to your head or neck can also cause temporary tinnitus. You should also be aware of things that can increase your blood pressure such as stress, alcohol or caffeine, as this can cause blood vessels close to your inner ear to become less stretchy, increasing the strength of your blood flow and causes sound in your ears.

You've recently been exposed to loud noise

This is the leading cause of tinnitus. Loud noises can leave you with a ringing in your ears for some time afterward. This could be from attending a loud concert or sporting event, working on a job site with heavy machinery or even something like a car backfiring. If the source of the noise is something that is infrequent or only happens once, then there is a good chance that the tinnitus is only temporary and will likely only last for a short time afterward. However, if you are exposed to loud noise on a daily basis then that could result in more permanent symptoms. If you're unsure what the cause could be, the best thing to do is to speak to a qualified audiologist as soon as possible.

You have some kind of blockage 

Earwax might not be the most pleasant substance in the world but it is incredibly important. Your body produces it in order to trap dirt and protect your ears. However, if it doesn't wash away on its own and too much piles up, that could lead to hearing loss or tinnitus symptoms. If this occurs then the best thing you can do is to see a doctor or audiologist so that they can remove the buildup gently and safely. Trying to deal with it yourself with a cotton swab not only won't get the job done but you run the risk of damaging your eardrum.

Whether you suspect that tinnitus is temporary or permanent, the best thing that you can do is to speak directly to an audiologist. That way they can help you to better identify the causes, as well as offer potential treatment. Make sure to get in touch with Hadassah Kupfer, Au. D at 917-791-1510 as soon as you begin to experience any form of tinnitus symptoms.