Transient Ear Noise: The Truth About Tinnitus

Separate fact from fiction about tinnitus and how it affects our health
Last update on May, 30, 2025

It's estimated that around 50 million American adults experience tinnitus

Yet, despite its prevalence, tinnitus is often misunderstood. Today, we aim to set the record straight on what tinnitus is and isn't, providing you with a better understanding of its causes, symptoms, and when to seek help.

Myths and Facts about Tinnitus

Below, we address common myths and FAQs about tinnitus that we encourage you to share with loved ones.

 

Myth: Tinnitus is a condition.

Fact: Tinnitus is not a condition or disease but rather a symptom of something else is happening within your auditory system or other parts of your body, such as hearing loss, ear injury, or a blood vessel disorder

Myth: Tinnitus is a ringing in the ears.

Fact: Although tinnitus is commonly described as a “ringing in the ears,” people with tinnitus may hear a wide range of other sounds, such as humming, buzzing, roaring, clicking, whistling, hissing, static, screeching, cricket-like chirps, pulsing, ocean waves, dial tones and even music.

Myth: The tinnitus sounds you hear are imaginary.

Fact: It's true that the perceived sound associated with tinnitus has no external source. However, the sound is very real to the person experiencing it. Did you know that in a small number of cases, the noise is audible to other people, and it can be recorded using a very sensitive microphone? This is known as objective tinnitus and is extremely rare.

Myth: Tinnitus isn't serious.

Fact: In its milder form, tinnitus may be a temporary annoyance, having little impact on your life. Or it may be severe enough that it causes stress, sleeping problems, a lack of concentration, irritability or even depression.

Regardless of its severity, there is enough research to suggest a potential link between tinnitus and dementia, if your symptoms are the result of hearing loss, which is a known risk factor for cognitive decline. Therefore, it's best to consult with a local hearing care provider to explain your symptoms so your provider can identify the root cause and help you find relief and avoid worsening symptoms.

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Myth: There is no treatment for tinnitus.

Fact: There is no medical or surgical treatment for tinnitus, however, there are a variety of options available for tinnitus management.  

FAQs about Tinnitus

Now that we've dispelled some common myths, let's dive into a few frequently asked questions about tinnitus.

Is tinnitus hereditary?

Research shows that tinnitus is not directly inherited and that the most common cause is exposure to loud noises. However, some underlying causes are still unknown, and there is evidence to suggest that certain genetics could make individuals more susceptible to tinnitus. This susceptibility may include being more prone to inner ear infections or earwax buildup, anxiety or depression. 

Are transient ear noise & tinnitus the same?

Transient ear noise refers to a noise that happens occasionally or intermittently while tinnitus generally refers to a constant or unremitting subjective nose. Transient ear noise is often associated with tinnitus and is sometimes described as a "type" of tinnitus. 

Why do my ears randomly ring for a few seconds?

Most people describe tinnitus as a random ringing in the ear for a few seconds. As mentioned earlier, tinnitus may be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as hearing loss or cardiovascular disease, that requires treatment.

Tinnitus may also be a symptom of the following:

  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Ear wax blockage
  • Ear infections
  • Ear or sinus problems
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Certain medications

Additionally, stress and anxiety can exacerbate tinnitus symptoms and some studies show a correlation between tinnitus and alcohol consumption. 

My hearing goes out in one ear for a few seconds?

It's not uncommon to experience temporary hearing loss or muffled hearing in one ear for a few seconds. This could be due to a variety of reasons such as changes in air pressure, ear wax buildup, or fluid in the ear.

However, if this issue persists or is accompanied by other symptoms such as dizziness, pain, or tinnitus, it's important to consult a hearing care provider for further evaluation.

What can I do about my tinnitus?

There are several steps you can take to manage tinnitus, including:

 

  • Protecting your ears by avoiding exposure to loud noises and using ear protection when necessary.
  • Managing stress
  • Seeking support from a local hearing care provider to explore treatment options and receive guidance on various therapies and devices that may help manage your symptoms.
  • Staying informed and educating yourself about tinnitus and its management.

Remember that while there may not be a medical or surgical treatment for tinnitus, there are ways to manage its impact on your daily life. If you're experiencing tinnitus, whether mild or severe, be sure to talk to a hearing care provider.

Manage the impact on your daily life

If you're experiencing tinnitus, whether mild or severe, be sure to talk to a hearing care provider.

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