Do you hear ringing in your ears? It could be tinnitus.

As audiologists, we get asked about tinnitus - the perception of sound when there’s no external source - all the time. Most people will experience some random sound in their ears from time to time. If it’s infrequent and short-lived (several seconds to minutes), it’s normal and no cause for concern. However, random sound in your ears may signal something else, so it’s important to know when it’s abnormal and what can be done about it.

Tinnitus can sound like many things, but it is commonly described as ringing, buzzing, humming, cicadas, or high-pitched. Tinnitus is a tricky problem because it’s different for every person, but if it lingers for longer than a few minutes and/or only occurs in one ear, it should be checked out by an audiologist. We don’t know exactly what causes tinnitus, but it’s often associated with exposure to loud sound and hearing loss. In some instances, however, it can signal other problems with your ears.

Although there is no known cure for tinnitus, there are ways we can help manage it. Managing tinnitus might be as simple as a sound generator on your smart phone or turning on a fan. For some of us, though, it might involve specially fitted and programmed devices. If you have noticed ringing in your ears or simply have questions about tinnitus, talk to your audiologist today.

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