Seven common tinnitus questions and their answers

Tinnitus affects 50 million Americans. That’s nearly one in six of us who report being impacted by ringing in the ears. To mark Tinnitus Awareness Week (February 3-9), our staff audiologists and Chief Health Officer, Dr. Archelle Georgiou, answered a list of frequently asked questions in hopes of dispelling common misconceptions and increasing understanding of the condition, whether it’s to help yourself or a loved one hear better and live better.

How do I know if I have tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the perception of ringing, buzzing, or hissing in the ears. The symptoms are actually different for each person. Some may only hear it when in a quiet room while others hear those disturbing sounds all the time. But here is what to remember: tinnitus is a symptom, not a diagnosis. It is very important to get it diagnosed properly by a hearing healthcare professional.

Archelle Georgiou, MD

Are there medications that can cause tinnitus?

Yes, Tinnitus is a potential side effect of many medications including aspirin, diuretics, antidepressants, chemotherapy drugs, and certain antibiotics.

Luis Camacho, Au.D.

I have tinnitus—what should I do?

Unfortunately, there are no cures for tinnitus, but there are approaches that make it much more bearable that give lots of people relief. They include counseling and sound therapy. The protocol is actually tailored to each individual person because everybody’s symptoms are different. The way to start is to make sure that you see a hearing healthcare professional.

Archelle Georgiou, MD

Take our quick and free tinnitus test to gain a better understanding of your tinnitus. It’s just 7 questions and takes less than 5 minutes!


If I have tinnitus, do I also have hearing loss?

In many cases, tinnitus is a symptom or side effect of hearing loss. However, it is possible to have tinnitus without hearing loss. Tinnitus can be the first indicator of some damage to the auditory system.

Luis Camacho, Au.D.

Are there things that make tinnitus worse?

Factors that can increase the effects of tinnitus include excess caffeine, salt, stress, exposure to loud noises, and some medications.

Luis Camacho, Au.D.

Are hearing aids my only option for treating tinnitus?

Hearing aids aren’t the only option to treating Tinnitus. Lots of times, it’s a great starting point however, there are lots of other treatments available, like Tinnitus retraining therapy or diet changes. Somethings you might not want to try are those medications you may have seen on the TV. Those are typically not scientifically approved and are not super effective.

Sarah Lewandowski, Au.D.

Does the tinnitus come back when I take the hearing aids off?

For some people, the tinnitus does come back when they take their hearing aids off. For others, their tinnitus might not be as loud as it was prior to wearing their hearing aids. It’s really different for everyone.

Sarah Lewandowski, Au.D.


Looking for relief from tinnitus? Start here. Looking for answers to additional questions you may have? Call 1-888-5231-8257 or click here.


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By Starkey Hearing