Tinnitus, a constant ringing or buzzing in the ears, impacts approximately one in five individuals. While commonly described as a ringing sound, it may manifest as a hissing, roaring, whooshing, buzzing, or whistling noise. Its intensity can vary, and it may occur intermittently or persistently.

Tinnitus, while often a nuisance, is typically not indicative of a serious condition. It can result from various factors such as aging, noise exposure, infections, allergies, earwax impaction, or medications.

Depending on the cause, there are potential solutions available to help alleviate the symptoms.


Factors contributing to tinnitus

Tinnitus is not a standalone ailment but rather a symptom linked to various underlying conditions. Potential causes include:

  • Allergies

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Specific disorders such as thyroid diseases and Meniere’s disease

  • Accumulated earwax

  • Hearing impairment

  • Aging

  • Exposure to loud noises

  • Ototoxic medications

  • Head or neck injuries

Additional factors can worsen tinnitus, such as certain medications, temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), and heightened stress levels.

Individuals experiencing pulsatile tinnitus perceive a rhythmic pulse synchronized with their heartbeat. This uncommon variation often stems from vascular irregularities, such as abnormal blood flow in the inner ear. Pulsatile tinnitus of this nature warrants evaluation by an otolaryngologist (ENT physician).

Treatment and management of tinnitus

No direct cure exists for tinnitus; however, addressing the underlying cause can often alleviate symptoms. Actions such as clearing impacted earwax, adjusting medications, or managing vascular conditions may lead to symptom reduction.

To begin addressing tinnitus, it's essential to undergo a comprehensive evaluation of both your hearing and the tinnitus itself. Our treatment approach for tinnitus is interdisciplinary, involving collaboration between different specialists. An audiologist can offer insights into the root causes of tinnitus and identify factors that may exacerbate it.

Your audiologist will help you build a treatment plan, which may include evaluations and treatment from specialists in multiple disciplines across CU Medicine.

We maintain close collaboration with your primary care provider to ensure you receive the appropriate care for your tinnitus. Additionally, the audiologist may integrate sound therapies, customized iterations of Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, hearing aids, tinnitus maskers, and other specialized audiology treatments into your treatment plan.


Tips for Preventing Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

Adopting preventive measures against hearing loss and tinnitus is crucial.

Utilize hearing protection in noisy environments to safeguard your ears. When using headphones, remember the “80-90” rule—you can listen at 80 percent of the maximum volume of your music player for 90 minutes per day.  Adjusting the volume beyond this range reduces safe listening time, whereas lowering the volume extends it.

Additionally, refrain from using cotton swabs in your ears as they can lead to impacted earwax.