So when should you see a doctor for tinnitus?

Below are some indicators that you should discuss your tinnitus symptoms with a healthcare professional immediately. 

You've experienced ringing in the ears for more than a week

If you woke up this morning with a slight ringing in your ear, it might not be anything to worry about. Perhaps you have water in your ear from last night's pool party or a buildup of wax.

However, if you've experienced a constant ringing, static or buzzing sound for at least a week, you should contact a doctor to see if there is an underlying condition. Therefore, even if your tinnitus is bearable, don't hesitate to go to a doctor if your symptoms persist.

You're experiencing discharge from the ear

If you're experiencing discharge from an ear and also experience a constant ringing or buzzing (tinnitus), you may have an ear infection. 
Ear infections are particularly common in children, with five out of six children experiencing an ear infection before their third birthday1. An ear infection occurs when an infection overtakes the air-filled space in the middle ear. The ear is typically painful to the touch. 
While some ear infections go away on their own, you can contact your doctor to receive an antibiotic to speed up the healing process. If left untreated for an extended period, ear infections can result in hearing loss, mastoiditis, perforation of the eardrum, and more.

This type of tinnitus usually isn't lasting, but it's worth getting a doctor's opinion.

You feel dizzy or nauseous

If dizziness or nausea accompanies your tinnitus symptoms, you should contact a doctor immediately. While there are multiple causes for tinnitus, dizziness and nausea are also symptoms of Meniere's disease. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Meniere's disease right now, but treating it quickly will help slow the disease's progression. 
In the meantime, you should avoid caffeine, tobacco, high sodium foods, and even chocolate.
While Meniere's Disease is rare that affects only about 12 out of 1,000 people worldwide2; it should be seriously examined.

You only experience symptoms in one ear

Tinnitus usually occurs bilaterally (in both ears). However, if you experience tinnitus unilaterally (one ear ringing), you should talk to a doctor as soon as possible. 

Unilateral tinnitus is usually a sign of Meniere's disease, or Idiopathic Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (ISSNHL). Meniere's disease is quite serious, and unfortunately, there is no cure for it. Yet, the sooner you seek treatment, the quicker your doctor can begin managing your symptoms. If your doctor cannot help you, he will more than likely refer you to a specialist for a same-day appointment to begin treatment immediately.

The symptom is rhythmic with your pulse (pulsatile)

Tinnitus noises can be constant or infrequent, though if you notice it's steady with your pulse, you should make a doctor's appointment sooner than later. 

Pulsatile tinnitus can be an indicator of anything from high blood pressure and vascular malformations to head and neck tumors or aneurysms.
However, the majority of underlying conditions are not very serious, and pulsatile tinnitus is usually just an indicator of a blood vessel with fluid in the eardrum.

Only 10 percent of all tinnitus patients suffer from pulsatile tinnitus, which is often audible to doctors3.

What kind of doctor treats tinnitus?

In general, one in five older adults has tinnitus4. Of those with tinnitus, in one in ten, tinnitus interfered with daily life. Those with hearing impairment were twice as likely to have tinnitus. Since tinnitus sufferers also commonly experience hearing loss, a tinnitus audiologist is an ideal doctor to seek out. The audiologist will give you a tinnitus hearing test to see what is causing your tinnitus and better understand how to treat it. 
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. You should not use the information as a substitute for, nor should it replace, professional medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.


  1.  Ear Infections in Children. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Publication No. 10–4799. March 2013
  2. Pray, W.S.. Meniere’s Disease. US Pharmacist. 2005;30(7) 
  3. Hofmann, E., Behr, R., Neumann-Haefelin, T., Schwager, K. Pulsatile Tinnitus. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, 2013. 110(26), 451-8.
  4. Oosterloo, B. C., Croll, P. H.,Baatenburg de Jong, R. J., Ikram, M. K., Goedegebure, A. Prevalence of Tinnitus in an Aging Population and Its Relation to Age and Hearing Loss. Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, 2021, 164(4), 859-868.