Tinnitus can be described as ringing, clicking or buzzing. It is not a disease, but a sign of an underlying problem in your ears or nerves.
About 10%Trusted Source people in the United States experience Tinnitus every year, even for just a few minutes. You may hear sounds in either one ear or both. They can be loud and soft.
Tinnitus can cause severe hearing loss, difficulty working or sleep problems for people with severe symptoms.
Tinnitus lasting only a few seconds or less is not uncommon. These sounds can be caused by a simple blockage, but it can also be caused by more serious conditions.
The first step to treating tinnitus involves determining the cause. A doctor will determine if there is an underlying cause and can then prescribe medication or perform surgery to address the issue.
Many people will not have a cause. This condition is known as “idiopathic Tinnitus”. There are no treatments that can reduce the intensity of idiopathic Tinnitus.
This article will discuss a range of treatments, from sound-based therapies and lifestyle changes that can help manage tinnitus.
Sound-based treatments for tinnitus
Tinnitus can be treated by addressing the root cause. This is most commonly when hearing loss is involved. If hearing loss is not the problem, sounds-based therapies may still be helpful by distracting from the actual symptom.
Tinnitus is a sign of hearing loss. Your brain’s ability to process sounds changes when you lose your hearing.
A hearing aid is small device that increases the volume of external noises using a microphone, amplifier and speaker. This device can be used to help the brain process sound in new ways.
Tinnitus can be a condition where you are unable to hear well enough to notice the ringing in your ears.
A survey of 230 healthcare professionals revealed that approximately 60% of those with tinnitus felt some relief with hearing aids, while 22 percent experienced significant relief.
Sound-masking device can provide an external sound that can drown out the ringing in your ears. These devices come in many sizes, including small ones that can be placed in your ears or tabletop sound machines.
These machines are possible to:
- white noise
- pink noise
- nature noises
- Other ambient sounds
Many people prefer an external sound level that is slightly higher than their tinnitus. Others prefer a masking sound that completely drowns out the ringing.
Commercial sound machines can also be used to aid in falling asleep or relaxation. You can also use:
- Regular headphones
- A television
- A fan
Sound-masking is not an easy task. A 2017 study showed that white noise and broadband noises are more effective than natural sounds.
Sound machines that can be modified or customized
While sound-masking devices can mask the sound of tinnitus, they don’t last long.
You can create custom sounds using modern medical-grade equipment. These devices can only be worn once a week, unlike regular sound machines.
The device may be turned off and you might experience some benefits. You may experience a long-term reduction in your tinnitus’s volume.
In 2017, researchers discovered these devices were more effective than white noise in reducing tinnitus symptoms. These devices are expensive and often not covered by insurance.
Tinnitus treatment with behavioral therapies
Sometimes, when there is no cure for a condition, the treatment involves accepting it and finding a way of living with it. Tinnitus is also a condition that can be treated with acceptance.
Tinnitus can be treated with therapies. These therapies are not meant to relieve it. They are intended to reduce your distress and irritation.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Tinnitus can be associated with high levels of emotional stress. Tinnitus sufferers are susceptible to depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) helps people suffering from tinnitus to learn how to live with it. CBT does not reduce the sound, but teaches how to accept it.
It is important to improve your quality life and keep tinnitus away from your main focus.
CBT is a process where you work with a counselor or therapist once per week to change your negative thoughts.
Although CBT was originally developed to treat depression and other psychological issues, it appears to be effective for those with tinnitus.
Numerous studies including one in the Korean Journal of AudiologyTrustedSource have shown that CBT can significantly reduce irritation and annoyance often associated with tinnitus.
Progressive tinnitus management
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), offers progressive tinnitus Management (PTM) as a therapeutic treatment program.
Tinnitus is a common condition among veterans of the armed forces. Noise-induced hearing loss can often be caused by loud noises from training and war.
Talk to your local VA hospital about their tinnitus treatments programs if you are a veteran. Tinnitus rehabilitation therapy (TRT) is another option that you may find helpful.
The National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research is available at the VA. You can also find step-by_step tinnitus documentation at the VA.
Tinnitus can’t be treated directly. However, there are a few medications that may help.
Tinnitus treatment can involve a variety of approaches. Your doctor might recommend medication as part your treatment.
These drugs can help reduce the discomfort of tinnitus and improve your quality-of-life. You may also benefit from anti-anxiety drugs such as alprazolam or Xanax if you have insomnia due to tinnitus.
The way antidepressants may treat tinnitus symptoms is a bit different. They may actually play a role, and not just what you perceive.
Neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that transmit messages about sensations to the brain from every part of your body, play an important role in depression.
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acids) is a neurotransmitter that transmits sound signals.
Antidepressants can increase serotonin which may reduce the effects of GABA neurotransmitter.
According to the American Tinnitus Association antidepressants are commonly used to treat Tinnitus.
Lifestyle changes to treat tinnitus
You can reduce your tinnitus symptoms by changing your lifestyle or stress levels. Below are some lifestyle changes that may help to reduce tinnitus symptoms.
Treatment of dysfunctions and obstructions
The American Tinnitus Association states that most cases of tinnitus can be attributed to hearing loss. Tinnitus can sometimes be caused by irritation to the auditory system.
Tinnitus may sometimes be a sign of a problem in the temporomandibular joints (TMJ). Tinnitus caused by TMJ disorder may be treated with a dental procedure.
You can also ask your dentist or doctor about non-procedural treatments for TMJ disorder.
Excessive earwax can cause tinnitus. Mild cases of tinnitus can be made disappear by removing earwax.
Tinnitus can also be caused by foreign objects that have lodged in the eardrum. While a regular practitioner can examine the ear canal for any obstructions, if you are experiencing tinnitus, a specialist in ear, nose and throat (ENT), may be able to help.
Your overall health and well-being can be greatly affected by exercise. Tinnitus can also be caused by:
- Lack of sleep
Regular exercise may help. A small studyTrusted Source found that yoga helped reduce stress and tinnitus symptoms in people suffering from chronic tinnitus.
Mindfulness-based stress relief
Mindfulness is being recognized for its health benefits. It was originally used to treat chronic pain.
Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), courses teach people how to manage their attention and distract from unfavorable feelings. It can be used to treat tinnitus.
One study found that individuals who took part in an eight-week program specifically designed for tinnitus experienced a significant improvement in their symptoms.
Meditation for mindfulness at home
You don’t need to commit to an 8 week program if you don’t have the time. Or you can buy a copy of “ Full Catastrophe living” by Jon Kabat Zinn.
Kabat-Zinn’s book can be used to practice meditation and breathing techniques, and it can also help you become more mindful.
Other treatments for Tinnitus
There are many alternative and complementary treatments for tinnitus, such as:
- Homeopathic remedies
Scientific studies have not supported any of these treatments. Although many believe that the herb Ginkgo Biloba is beneficial, large-scale research has not been able to support this belief.
Many nutritional supplements claim to treat tinnitus. These supplements are often a mixture of vitamins and herbs, which can include zinc, ginkgo and vitamin B-12.
These dietary supplements were not evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and have not been supported by scientific research. Anecdotal evidence suggests that they might be beneficial for some people.
How can tinnitus be diagnosed?
A primary care physician should be consulted if you suspect you may have tinnitus. The doctor will ask you questions about your family and personal medical history as well as your lifestyle, and any medications that you may be taking.
Make sure you mention your work type, especially if you’re exposed to loud sounds. Also, any injuries.
Your appointment will include a complete examination of your ears, head, neck and head. You may also have basic hearing and movement testing performed by your doctor. Your doctor may recommend additional tests or refer to an audiologist.
There are several tests that can be done to determine the source of your tinnitus.
- Full auditory testing
- Imaging studies such as a CT and MRI
- Blood work is required to test things such as your thyroid levels.
Your doctor can provide a diagnosis that will help you guide your treatment of tinnitus. However, testing may be necessary if there is an underlying condition.
Is tinnitus an emergency medical situation?
Tinnitus is not usually a sign that you have a serious medical condition. If you are unable to hear, sleep, or work normally, talk with your doctor.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should visit your nearest emergency department.
- Facial paralysis
- sudden hearing loss
- Ear discharge that is foul-smelling
- A pulsating sound that is in tune with your heartbeat
Tinnitus can be distressing for some people. You should immediately go to the emergency department if you think about suicide or your loved one.
Tinnitus can cause frustration. Tinnitus is a frustrating condition that has no easy explanation. There is no cure unless there is an underlying cause.
There are ways to decrease the severity of symptoms and improve quality of your life.
Talk to a doctor about your tinnitus to rule out other conditions. Also, discuss possible treatment options.