Tinnitus (ear ringing)

Tinnitus is when you hear ringing, clicking, buzzing, or hissing in one or both ears. You may also hear whistling, chirping, or pulsing. It may be soft or loud, and at a low or high pitch. Tinnitus that lasts for longer than 6 months is considered chronic.


Call 911 if:

  • You feel like hurting yourself or others because of the constant noise.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have headaches.
  • You are tired and have trouble concentrating or remembering things.
  • You have more anxiety or stress than usual.
  • You have deep sadness or depression.
  • You have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • Your symptoms do not go away or they get worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Manage tinnitus:

  • Counseling can help you learn ways to relax, decrease stress, and make your tinnitus less noticeable.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you understand your condition. Your therapist will help you learn to cope with tinnitus. You may also learn new ways to relax and retrain your behavior to decrease your symptoms.
  • Sound therapy, such as white noise machines, may help cover your tinnitus with a pleasant sound. Sound therapy devices can help you fall asleep or help you relax. These devices can be worn in your ear or placed next to your bed at night.
  • Hearing aids or cochlear implants may help if you have hearing loss.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine decreases blood flow to your ear and can make your tinnitus worse. Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help quitting.
  • Decrease how much alcohol and caffeine you drink. Alcohol and caffeine can make your tinnitus worse.

Prevent tinnitus:

  • Avoid exposure to loud noise, such as loud music or power tools. Occasional exposure can still cause tinnitus. Move away from the noise or turn down the volume.
  • Wear ear protection when you are exposed to loud noises. Good ear protection includes ear plugs or headphones that reduce noise.

Follow up with your healthcare provider in 1 to 2 months:

Your healthcare provider may refer you to an otolaryngologist, audiologist, or neurologist. You may need to return for regular follow-up visits. Write your questions down so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.