The duration of tinnitus can depend on the underlying cause. Some people may experience tinnitus that comes and goes, while others may experience constant noise. Treatment can help someone with the condition.

Although there is no cure for tinnitus, some cases may be temporary, and the condition may resolve by itself. If doctors can treat the underlying cause, such as an ear infection, it may go away.

If tinnitus is long lasting and constant, treatments can help manage symptoms and lessen its effects on everyday life.

This article explains how long tinnitus may last, if it can go away on its own, tips for managing tinnitus, and when to contact a doctor.

An older adult with tinnitus getting an ear exam from a doctor.-2Share on Pinterest
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For many people, tinnitus symptoms may last for months or years. If tinnitus lasts for 3 months or more, doctors consider it chronic.

Tinnitus may improve over time or may be temporary and go away spontaneously. In some cases, the condition may worsen over time.

According to a 2021 article, around 40% of people with mild tinnitus and 20% with severe tinnitus reported that the tinnitus resolved after 5 years.

The duration of tinnitus may depend on the underlying cause. For example, temporary acute tinnitus may occur due to high doses of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin.

Permanent causes of tinnitus may include age-related hearing loss or certain health conditions. For example, Ménière’s disease can cause tinnitus that may not go away as the disease is usually slowly progressive.

Noise-induced hearing loss can cause tinnitus and can occur due to exposure to a noisy environment. After leaving the environment, symptoms may resolve, but long-term exposure may lead to permanent hearing impairment.

There is currently no cure for tinnitus, and there are no medications specifically for curing the condition. However, treatments can help someone reduce or manage symptoms.

Treating the underlying cause may resolve symptoms, but this can depend on what is causing the tinnitus.

If an underlying issue, such as high blood pressure, a buildup of earwax, or a problem with the jaw joint, is causing tinnitus, treating these issues may resolve tinnitus.

Tinnitus may be improving if people experience a reduction in symptoms such as:

  • reduced tinnitus volume in the ear, which may include a reduction in:
    • buzzing
    • roaring
    • whistling
    • hissing
  • improvements in mood
  • better sleep
  • tinnitus is less bothersome or causes less distress
  • tinnitus episodes occur less frequently

Ways of managing tinnitus and reducing the effects of symptoms may include:

  • sound therapy, which can help distract or mask the sound of tinnitus
  • hearing aids for people with hearing loss
  • sound generators, such as a smartphone app or small wearable devices, which provide background noise, such as rain or waves, to distract from tinnitus
  • behavioral therapy to help manage the effects of tinnitus on everyday life
  • counseling and education to better understand tinnitus and how to manage it
  • cognitive behavioral therapy to alter negative thought patterns and find positive solutions to manage the effects of tinnitus
  • tinnitus retraining therapy, which retrains the brain to ignore tinnitus using sound therapy and counseling
  • medications to manage any mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression, or to aid sleep

If tinnitus is due to an underlying cause, seeking treatment for the underlying health issue can also help treat tinnitus symptoms.

If people have tinnitus symptoms, they can contact a doctor who will check for underlying causes, such as a buildup of earwax or an ear infection.

A doctor may refer people to an ear, nose, and throat doctor, who will assess symptoms and carry out a physical examination of the ears and head area.

People may also consult an audiologist — a doctor specializing in hearing and balance disorders — who will assess hearing.

Doctors may also take imaging scans, such as MRI or CT scans, to check for the underlying cause of tinnitus. Once people have a diagnosis, a doctor will suggest treatments or management strategies.

The duration of tinnitus may vary according to the underlying cause. If treatment can fix the cause of tinnitus, such as a buildup of earwax or a jaw problem, the condition may be temporary and may resolve when a person treats the cause.

In other cases, tinnitus may last months or years and may not be curable. Some people find tinnitus improves over time, while for others, it may worsen.

Treatments can help manage tinnitus symptoms and reduce its effects on everyday life. These interventions may include sound therapies and behavioral therapies.