About 1 in 5 people experience the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. It's called tinnitus.

Dr. Gayla Poling says tinnitus can be perceived a myriad of ways. "Ninety percent of those with tinnitus have hearing loss." Hearing loss can be age-related, come from a one-time exposure, or exposure to loud sounds over a lifetime. Dr. Poling says the tiny hairs in our inner ear may play a role.

"Those little hair cells in our inner ear are really delicate structures. That's what is actually damaged with noise exposure."

Dr. Poling says there's no scientifically proven cure for tinnitus, but there are treatment and management options.

"Something as simple as getting a hearing aid to really treat the hearing loss." Other options include using a sound generator or using a fan at night.

"There's something called 'tinnitus retraining therapy.'" There are more ear-level masking devices where you can hear sounds throughout the day, too, that are more distracting."

If ringing in your ears bothers you, start by seeing your health care provider for a hearing test.

For the Mayo Clinic News Network, I'm Ian Roth.

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March 12, 2019