The ringing just won’t go away. It’s been over two days and you can still hear that unpleasant ringing in your ears. You know the sound is tinnitus, but you’re starting to question exactly how long lasting tinnitus normally is.
Tinnitus can be brought on by injury to the stereocilia inside of your ears (they’re the very small hairs that sense air vibrations that your brain then transforms into intelligible sound). That injury is typically the outcome of overly loud noise. That’s why when you’re seated near a roaring jet engine, or out at a loud restaurant, or going to a concert, you notice tinnitus the most.
Under Normal Scenarios, How Long Does Tinnitus Persist?
Tinnitus can’t be cured. But that doesn’t mean it’ll never subside. How long your tinnitus lasts depends on a large number of factors, including your general health and the underlying cause of your tinnitus.
But if you just arrived home from a noisy day of traveling and you notice your ears buzzing, a couple of days should be enough for you to notice your tinnitus fading away. 16 to 48 hours on average is how long tinnitus will persist. But sometimes, symptoms can last as long as a couple of weeks. Additional exposure to loud noises could also cause tinnitus to flare up again, essentially resetting the clock.
It’s generally suggested that you see a specialist if your tinnitus continues and particularly if your tinnitus is detracting from your quality of life.
Why is Tinnitus Sometimes Permanent?
Tinnitus is normally impermanent. But in some cases it can be long-lasting. When the root cause is not mundane that’s particularly true either in terms of origin or in terms of intensity. Here are a few examples:
- Hearing Impairment: Often, tinnitus and hearing loss are joined at the hip. So, no matter what causes your hearing loss, you could also end up developing (or noticing) irreversible tinnitus alongside it.
- Repeated exposure: After one rock show, your ears will probably ring for a couple of days but frequent exposure will result in far worse consequences. Repeated exposure to loud noises can result in permanent hearing injury, tinnitus included.
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): The brain is where the majority of sound is processed. When those processors begin to misfire, because of traumatic brain trauma, tinnitus can be the result.
Permanent tinnitus is considerably less common than its more temporary counterpart. But permanent or chronic tinnitus still impacts millions of Americans every year.
How Can You Get Your Tinnitus to Subside?
Whether your tinnitus is short term or long lived, you will want to find relief as quickly as possible. Although there isn’t any cure for tinnitus, there are some things you can do to reduce symptoms (however long they may last):
- Avoid loud noises. Attending another live show, jumping on another plane, or cranking up the volume on your earpods another notch might prolong your symptoms or double down on their severity.
- Wear earplugs (or earmuffs): If you can’t steer clear of loud situations, then protecting your hearing is the next best option. (And, really, you need to be protecting your ears even if you don’t have tinnitus.)
- Try to remain calm: Maybe it sounds a little… abstract, but higher blood pressure can lead to tinnitus flare ups so staying calm can help keep your tinnitus at bay.
- Find a way to mask the sound: In some cases, using a white noise device (such as a fan or humidifier) can help you cover up the noise of tinnitus and, thus, ignore the symptoms (and, you know, get a restful night’s sleep in the process).
To be certain, if you have permanent tinnitus, none of these strategies will cure your tinnitus. But decreasing and controlling your symptoms can be just as important.
When Will Your Tinnitus go Away?
In most circumstances, though, your tinnitus will go away without you needing to do anything about it. Just wait the 16-48 hours and your hearing should return to normal. However, you will want to seek out a solution if your tinnitus persists. The sooner you find a treatment that is effective, the sooner you can get relief. If you think you have hearing loss (which is often associated with tinnitus) you should get your hearing checked.