Woman with hands to her ears in pain wondering when the ringing in her ears will stop.

When you first notice that ringing in your ears you may have a very typical reaction: pretend that it’s no big deal. You go through your day the same way you always do: you do your shopping, you cook dinner, you attempt to have a discussion with your partner. While you simultaneously try your best to ignore that ringing. Because you feel sure of one fact: your tinnitus will go away on its own.

After several more days of unrelenting buzzing and ringing, though, you begin to have doubts.

This scenario happens to other people as well. At times tinnitus will go away by itself, and other times it will linger on and that’s why it’s a tricky little condition.

The Condition of Temporary Tinnitus

Tinnitus is incredibly common around the world, nearly everybody’s had a bout here and there. Tinnitus is a non-permanent condition, in most circumstances, and will ultimately recede by itself. A rock concert is a good example: you go to your local stadium to see your favorite band and you notice, when you get back home, that there is a ringing in your ears.

The kind of tinnitus that is associated with temporary injury from loud noise will usually subside within a few days (but you realize that it’s simply part of going to a loud performance).

Over time hearing loss can develop from temporary or “acute” to permanent or “chronic” because of this exact kind of injury. Too many of those types of concerts and you might end up with permanent tinnitus.

When Tinnitus Doesn’t Seem to be Going Away by Itself

If your tinnitus doesn’t diminish (with help or on its own) within the span of three months or so, the disorder is then categorized as chronic tinnitus (this does not, however, mean that you should wait that long to consult with a specialist about lingering thumping, buzzing, or ringing in your ears).

Something like 5-15% of individuals globally have recorded symptoms of chronic tinnitus. The precise causes of tinnitus are still not well known though there are some known associations (such as hearing loss).

When the triggers of your tinnitus aren’t obvious, it often means that a quick “cure” will be elusive. If your ears have been ringing for over three months and there’s no identifiable cause, there’s a strong chance that the sound will not recede on its own. But if this is your situation, you can preserve your quality of life and control your symptoms with some treatment possibilities (like noise canceling devices and cognitive behavioral therapy).

It’s Important to Know What The Cause of Your Tinnitus is

It becomes a lot easier to decrease the symptoms of tinnitus when you can establish the fundamental causes. If a bacterial ear infection is, for instance, the reason for your tinnitus, you can regain a healthy ear and clear hearing by managing it with antibiotics.

Here are some likely causes of acute tinnitus:

  • Hearing loss (again, this is often associated with chronic tinnitus)
  • A blockage in the ear or ear canal
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Meniere’s disease (this is often associated with chronic tinnitus, as Meniere’s has no cure)
  • Damage to the eardrum (such as a perforated eardrum)

The Big Question…Will my Tinnitus Ever Subside?

The truth is that in most cases, yes, your tinnitus will go away on its own. But the longer it hangs around, the longer you hear reverberations or humming or whatever the sound happens to be, the more likely it becomes that you’re coping with chronic tinnitus.

You think that if you just disregard it should vanish on its own. But at some point, your tinnitus could become unpleasant and it may become hard to concentrate on anything else. And in those situations, you might want a treatment strategy more comprehensive than crossing your fingers.

Most of the time tinnitus is simply the body’s reaction to loud noise that could be damaging over time and will subside by itself. Whether that’s chronic or acute tinnitus, well, we’ll only know over time.