You may have heard the old adage: if your ears are ringing, it means someone is talking about you! Well, what if your ears are seemingly ringing all the time? While it certainly doesn’t actually mean someone is talking about you, it can be an indicator that you are suffering from tinnitus. 

Tinnitus is the perception of sound(s) from the ears and/or within the head. While it is mostly described as a high-pitched ringing or buzzing sound, it can be perceived in various ways. The intensity, tonality, and presentation also vary from one person to the next. 

We spoke with audiologist Melanie Hecker, founder of Bluemoth Hearing, about this condition as well as a new program from Mahana Therapeutics that can help provide relief to tinnitus sufferers.

But first, what causes tinnitus? 

“The primary root cause of tinnitus is an underlying, untreated hearing loss. This underlying hearing loss is highly correlated with Phantom Limb Pain, in that the brain is seeking a healthy signal from a portion of the body and creates a "phantom" sensation when no proper response is received,” explains Hecker. 

While, with tinnitus, there is an underlying hearing loss issue present, it’s important to note that tinnitus, or ringing in your ears, can be present with or without symptoms of hearing loss. 

Hecker explains: “When the brain sends a signal to the cochlea and doesn't get back the healthy, robust response it desires, it creates a phantom sound. When tinnitus pitch matching is performed to assist in quantifying the tonal perception of the patient, the tone selected that "matches" their tinnitus perception almost always correlates with the same frequency/frequency region where there is the most hearing loss/cochlear damage.”

Tinnitus can also be caused or worsened by certain medications, high blood pressure, noise/blast exposure, head or neck injuries, specific pathologies, major life events, and/or emotional trauma. 

How long does the ringing last?

Unfortunately, tinnitus sufferers might hear phantom ringing in their ears for months or even years. If tinnitus symptoms last more than 3 months, the patient is typically diagnosed with chronic tinnitus. Thankfully, there are options to help manage this often debilitating condition.

How can tinnitus be managed?

If you’re dealing with tinnitus, your first instinct might be to see an Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist (ENT) or your Primary Care Physician (PCP) for your symptoms. However, audiologists are the best bet for comprehensive tinnitus care. 

“An audiologist will gather a thorough case history to understand an individual's overall health and wellness concerns to make better, personalized tinnitus treatment recommendations. In some cases, tinnitus management includes a multi-disciplinary team approach including PCPs, pain and/or pharmacological care specialists, mental health specialists, and/or potential others,” explains Hecker. 

An audiologist will also understand that tinnitus can present with or without symptoms of hearing loss, run the appropriate tests, and develop a treatment plan to reduce the impact of tinnitus on daily life.

“Hearing technology will [often] be prescribed and tuned to compensate for the patient’s specific hearing loss, providing the brain with the acoustic response and stimulation it wants. Therefore, it can slowly stop creating phantom sound sensations. For realistic expectations, this is unfortunately not an overnight experience — it does take time!” says Hecker. 

What are the benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for tinnitus?

Because tinnitus activates a person’s “fight or flight” response, neurological therapies can be extremely beneficial in a tinnitus patient’s treatment plan. 

Hecker adds: “Two highly effective, proven neurological methods of treatment are through sound therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Most hearing technologies now include sound therapy programs that an Audiologist can program and tailor to each individual's tinnitus needs. CBT helps deal with the thoughts, behaviors, reactions, and lifestyle impacts of bothersome tinnitus, and that makes tinnitus worse.” 

Mahana Tinnitus™ is a new, evidence-based digital program that uses proven CBT techniques to help provide relief to people with tinnitus. Mahana Tinnitus is a self-guided program meaning users go at their own pace through 5 educational sessions packed with dozens of lessons and learn to use tangible skills and tools developed by tinnitus experts to help take back control of their tinnitus. The program can take about 2 months to complete and while on the program, users are overseen by the care of an Audiologist. 

“The program helps users identify negative thoughts, reactions, and behaviors associated with tinnitus, reframe them, and replace them with more positive thoughts and skills proven to provide tinnitus relief,” explains Hecker. “The program allows individuals to assess, process, and change their thoughts to better align with more positive and realistic outcomes. Mahana provides an immense amount of relief and reframing, thus greatly reducing the severity of tinnitus perception in individuals participating in the program,” Hecker says. 

Don’t fear. Help is here!

If you suffer from tinnitus, you are not alone and there are treatment options available to you. To manage the condition, a three-pronged approach including acoustical stimulation (via hearing technology), sound therapy (within such hearing technology), and a CBT-based educational and skills-building program like Mahana Tinnitus™ is typically recommended. 

Need help managing tinnitus and wondering if Mahana Tinnitus is right for you? Learn more at

Brighid Flynn is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia where she lives with her husband and puppy. She is just beginning her journey toward motherhood.