Why Do We Get Ringing in the Ears?

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Ringing in the ears is actually not happening in the ears, but rather caused by the brain. Discover why we get ringing in the ears from a practicing pediatrician in this free video on ear care.

Part of the Video Series: Ear Care & Treatments
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Video Transcript

Hi I'm Dr. David Hill and today we're going to talk about how to stop ringing ears. Now the first question we need to ask is, what is ringing in the ear? Where does that come from, and the most important thing to know about ringing in the ear is it doesn't happen in the ear. It sounds like it's in the ear, but ringing in the ear is actually a phenomenon that occurs in the brain itself. We call this Tinnitus for those of you who want to look it up elsewhere. It is caused usually not by a sound, but by the absence of sound. So Tinnitus can be a sign of either permanent or temporary hearing loss. A common place that people experience Tinnitus is after they've been exposed to very loud sound for example, at a shooting range or at a music concert. If they have been exposed over a prolonged period of time to loud sound, the ear stops functioning very well at transmitting sound and then the brain produces Tinnitus to take up the slack. Likewise people who may have an ear infection or a clogged ear and suddenly can't hear everything that they should may experience Tinnitus. Most seriously, Tinnitus can be a result of some sort of permanent hearing loss or hearing damage. So if you have Tinnitus that doesn't go away after a few hours or a day or two, or you have no idea why you have it, you don't have an ear infection. You didn't just come back from a concert, then you really want to seek the advice of a physician. Now a primary care physician may be able to do some basic hearing testing and a good ear exam but many times we refer these cases to audiologists and Ear, Nose and Throat specialists so if you have Tinnitus from an obvious cause like a loud noise or an ear infection, give it a day or two and see if it doesn't go away but if you have Tinnitus that isn't going away and you're not sure why it's there, you need to seek care because you may have an opportunity to intervene early in a process that threatens your hearing for the long term. Talking about how to get rid of ringing in the ears, I'm Dr. David Hill.

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