I have tinnitus in both ears. Sometimes it peaks to a very high pitch or drops to a very low pitch. It lasts for 5-10 seconds. What may be causing this?

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Tinnitus, the perception of noise when no external sound is present, can be very annoying and frustrating, especially when the tinnitus ringing or other sound varies in pitch and loudness. There are many causes for tinnitus. While there is no cure, treatment options and therapies are available.

If you experience tinnitus, you should see an Audiologist for a complete audiological evaluation. The Audiologist will determine if you have a hearing loss, since it is very common for people with hearing loss to also have tinnitus. You should also see an Ear, Nose and Throat physician, to rule out any medically treatable conditions related to tinnitus.

One treatment if you do have hearing loss is hearing aids, which help distract your brain from the tinnitus by providing access to environmental sounds around you. Some hearing aids also incorporate a noise generator, activated by the Audiologist to provide additional distraction from the tinnitus.

If you do not have a hearing loss, you may find relief from the tinnitus by using a sound generator, either through a tabletop device or a smartphone app. The idea is to keep your brain occupied so it will be less aware of the tinnitus.

Be aware of any triggers that might change the pitch or intensify the loudness of your tinnitus. These might include: fatigue, stress, caffeine, salt, sugar or some medications. Discuss your overall health and lifestyle with your Audiologist or Ear Nose and Throat physician.

For more information, visit the American Tinnitus Association.

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