This is the point when you begin an internal dialogue, trying to convince yourself that there is no cause for concern. After all, tinnitus does not stay forever and usually goes away on its own. But as days go by and the loud noises, buzzing sounds relentlessly stick around, you begin to worry and doubt that the ringing will ever stop. 

How common is tinnitus?

Whether you are currently going through something similar or suffer from tinnitus off and on, know that you are not alone. According to the American Academy of Audiology1, approximately 30 million Americans suffer from the condition. Newer statistics published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 50 million people suffer from some form of tinnitus in the United States. Although, in general, tinnitus is more prevalent among people with hearing loss, at least 13 million people report having the condition without any hearing impairment2
“Despite the substantial heterogeneity among studies, this comprehensive systematic review on the prevalence and incidence of tinnitus suggests that tinnitus affects more than 740 million adults globally and is perceived as a major problem by more than 120 million people, mostly aged 65 years or older. Health policy makers should consider the global burden of tinnitus, and greater effort should be devoted to boost research on tinnitus"5.

When does tinnitus go away on its own?

While tinnitus can sometimes linger around for a long time, it resolves on its own most of the time. In fact, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the condition is merely a temporary phenomenon and goes away by itself. One such example is noise-induced hearing loss. Let's say you attend a concert, and after leaving, you realize that your ear is ringing. This type of ringing in the ear is due to temporary damage caused by the loud noise and is likely to subside over a few days. 
 
However, don't think that exposing your hearing to extreme noise levels will have no negative consequences. On the contrary, noise-induced hearing loss can become chronic over time. 

When does tinnitus linger?

It can be very troubling when your tinnitus lingers for weeks and months at a time. If your tinnitus lasts longer than three months, your doctor will classify it as chronic. Although having constant ringing and buzzing in your ears is very annoying, the noise is usually mild enough, and people can learn to live with it.

However, in other cases, the noise is so loud that living with the condition takes a severe toll on the person's quality of life. The sounds can be so debilitating that the sufferers live under constant stress, lose the ability
to concentrate or even sleep. Regardless of how long you have had tinnitus, you should never wait for months to seek out help from a hearing specialist to resolve the sounds in your ears. 

What causes tinnitus?

Exposure to loud noise
One of the most common causes3 of tinnitus is exposure to some loud sound that harms the sensory cells of the cochlea in the inner ear. One way this damage can occur is by spending an extensive amount of time in noisy environments. Imagine being seated near a roaring jet engine on an airplane for several hours, or even worse, going to a rock concert and standing near the stage right next to the speaker. 
 
Acoustic trauma is another way to sustain damage to your ear. Acoustic trauma is an injury to your inner ear caused by high-decibel sounds. Such damage can occur after a brief exposure to extremely loud noise or repeated exposure to noises over a longer time. An explosion is a perfect example of how one could suffer acoustic trauma. Consider wearing some type of hearing protection, such as protective earplugs or earmuffs to reduce your risk of ear damage whenever you think you will be in an environment that may expose you to deafening noises. 
 
Blocked ear (auditory) canal due to earwax build-up
Although the ears are typically self-cleaning, some people have excess wax, which may need to be professionally removed. In instances when excessive earwax touches the eardrum, it can create pressure and change the way the eardrum vibrates and thereby cause tinnitus symptoms. 
Chronic middle ear infection
Middle ear infections - otherwise known as otitis media - occur when the auditory tube traps pathogens (bacteria and viruses) inside the ear canal. This type of ear infection is much more common among children. Ringing in the ear is only one of the many symptoms you might experience. Other symptoms include fever, ear pain, and vertigo. 
 
While middle ear infections usually go away within a couple of weeks, inner ear infections can last much longer and may increase the chances of tinnitus.
Ruptured (perforated) eardrum
A ruptured eardrum (tympanic membrane perforation) is generally a tear in the thin tissue separating the ear canal from the middle ear. Complications of a ruptured eardrum are hearing impairment and an increased vulnerability to middle ear infections. Both infections and hearing loss increase your risk of developing ringing ears. 
Meniere's disease
Meniere's disease affects the inner ear, causing severe vertigo, ringing in the ear, hearing loss, and a feeling of congestion in the ear. This condition typically affects only one ear.
Pulsatile tinnitus
Pulsatile tinnitus is unique in the sense that the noise in your ear pulses to the rhythm of your heartbeat. While there are many possible causes, the most common reason for it is high blood pressure.
Medication side effects
Side effects of some antibiotics, cancer drugs, and anti-malaria drugs include ringing in the ear. If you are on any of these types of drugs, take the time to review the list of adverse effects. If tinnitus is listed and you want the ringing to stop, consult with your healthcare practitioner and consider requesting another medication. 
No obvious cause
Suppose your doctor was not able to pinpoint the causes of your tinnitus symptoms. In that case, they call this primary or idiopathic tinnitus. If you have been hearing sounds and buzzing for over three months with no identifiable cause, the chances are that the sound will not go away on its own. Thankfully, you can explore various treatment options.

How to make tinnitus go away?

Without knowing the cause of your tinnitus symptoms, finding the most appropriate treatment is a difficult task. Once you know what you are dealing with, alleviating the condition becomes much easier. Depending on the reason, you have different treatment options. Some people find relief with cognitive behavioral therapy, noise-canceling devices, or hearing aids. These options can help manage symptoms and maintain your quality of life.
 
If the root of your problems is otosclerosis, surgery may be the best option to return to hearing normal.

Despite the high success rate, many patients decide against surgery, but most will use hearing aids. Suppose your symptoms are a result of a painful ear infection. In that case, your doctor may prescribe treatment with an antibiotic to solve both problems.

When will the ringing in my ear go away?

It is difficult to say when the ringing will stop in your specific case4. Thankfully, in the overwhelming majority of cases, your tinnitus symptoms will go away on their own. But the longer the problem lingers, the more likely it is that you're dealing with a chronic issue. Even in this scenario, the ringing may suddenly stop without treatment, although it is less likely to happen this way. In any case, it is best to get your ears checked, especially if the sound and noise in your ear become too disrupting. 
1  American Academy of Audiology:  Tinnitus - American Academy of Audiology
2  American Tinnitus Association:  Tinnitus an Unacknowledged, Underfunded Public Health Crisis | American Tinnitus Association (ata.org)
3  Causes | American Tinnitus Association (ata.org) 
4  Will My Tinnitus Go Away? | American Tinnitus Association (ata.org) 
5  Global Prevalence and Incidence of Tinnitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Global Prevalence and Incidence of Tinnitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis - PubMed (nih.gov) 
6  The Lancet – Regional Health – Europe - Tinnitus prevalence in Europe: a multi-country cross-sectional population study:  Tinnitus prevalence in Europe: a multi-country cross-sectional population study - The Lancet Regional Health – Europe