A neighbor friend of mine recently returned from his second tour of duty in Afghanistan. He says he has ringing in his ears all the time. Will this go away?
Ringing in the ears is called "tinnitus." Hearing loss from loud noises (noise-induced hearing loss) is a common cause of tinnitus, so it's important to have a complete hearing evaluation by an audiologist. Most people learn to tune it out over time, but here are some ideas that can be helpful:
- Gentle background noise (sound machines, fans, soft music, running water, etc.) helps make tinnitus less annoying. Try out a few and find the type of sound that works best for you.
- If you have a hearing loss, hearing aids can help mask the tinnitus while also improving hearing.
- Loud sounds, nicotine, caffeine, and stress can make tinnitus worse.
- If you cannot adjust to tinnitus on your own, seek help from a medical professional.
Janet Brown, MA, CCC-SLP spent twenty years in practice at the Veterans Administration Medical Center and at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, DC. She is the former director of Health Care Services at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.