whooshing sound in ear being checked by hearing care professional
whooshing sound in ear being evaluated by hearing care professional

Whooshing Sound in Ear: Possible Causes and Treatment Options

Have you ever held a seashell up to your ear and listened? When you were a child, a grownup may have told you the sound inside the seashell was the gentle roaring of ocean waves.

The truth, of course, is somewhat less magical. The “whooshing” sound in a seashell is simply the effect of the curving interior on the air inside of the shell.

But what if you hear a whooshing sound in your ears constantly, and the sound won’t go away? Should you be worried? What might be causing the sound, and most importantly, what can you do about it?

Don’t worry: we’ve got answers to your questions.

That Whooshing Sound May Be Caused By Tinnitus

An estimated 50 million Americans suffer from a condition known as tinnitus. Pronounced “ti-nuh-tuhs” (or alternatively, “ti-NIGHT-us”), tinnitus is characterized by a persistent ringing, swishing, buzzing, or—yes—whooshing sound in one or both ears.

Most people have experienced short-term tinnitus after leaving a loud event, such as an indoor concert or sports game. Unfortunately, for millions of people, the sound persists no matter where they go or how quiet their surroundings may be.

Causes of Tinnitus

There are many possible causes of tinnitus, and research on the condition is ongoing. That said, there are known associations between tinnitus and the following conditions, medical events, or sudden triggers:

  • Earwax accumulation or a punctured eardrum.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss due to chronic exposure to loud noises or the natural aging process.
  • Ototoxic (toxic to the ear) medications, including ibuprofen, salicylates such as Pepto-Bismal, anti-inflammatory medications, antidepressants, sedatives, and certain antibiotics.
  • Infection, allergies, otosclerosis, Meniere’s disease, or tumors in the middle ear.
  • Trauma to the head or neck, neck misalignment, or a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.
  • Diabetes, vascular disorders, thyroid dysfunction, or low blood pressure.

It’s also worth noting that consuming substances such as alcohol or caffeine may significantly worsen the symptoms of tinnitus.

Whooshing Sounds From Tinnitus: Next Steps

Initially, you should schedule an appointment with your general practitioner, who will look for any accumulation of ear wax in the ear canal or investigate other health conditions and medications that might be contributing to the issue.

After ruling out obvious causes, your general practitioner will refer you to a specialist in ear, nose, and throat (ENT). The ENT will conduct a thorough examination of your neck, head, and ears, as well as perform a hearing test to ascertain if your tinnitus is accompanied by any hearing impairment. It may become necessary to seek the expertise of an audiologist or hearing care professional. This professional can carry out additional tests to assess the severity of both the hearing loss and the tinnitus.

How to Stop Whooshing Sounds From Tinnitus

There is no universal remedy for tinnitus. However, the condition can be managed effectively with the assistance of a hearing care professional, who will personalize a treatment plan for your needs. Utilizing cutting-edge hearing aid technology, your hearing care professional can explain strategies to handle the constant irritation caused by tinnitus. The good news: as many as 60% of individuals using hearing aids experience some degree of tinnitus relief by enhancing their hearing with the devices.

Moreover, taking steps to boost your overall health can also aid in managing the condition more easily. Practices such as relaxation techniques, regular physical activity, and maintaining a nutritious diet are always beneficial.

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