Tinnitus and Treatment Options
Tinnitus comes from the Latin word for ringing. Tinnitus is a sound in the ear that comes from inside your head such as a ringing, buzzing, whistling or chirping – without the presence of an external sound. Tinnitus is not a disease; it is a very common disorder. Research supports the theory that tinnitus arises in the brain and is due to altered neural pathways. It may be intermittent, constant or fluctuant, mild or severe, and may vary from a low roaring sensation to a high pitched type of sound. There are a number of different kinds of tinnitus.
Possible Causes of Tinnitus Include
- Exposure to a loud noise
- Ear infections
- Certain antibiotics & other drugs or excessive aspirin intake
- Middle ear disorders
- Underactive thyroid gland
- Age-related hearing loss
- Earwax buildup or blockages
- Abnormal bone growth in the ear
- Head or neck injuries
- Benign tumor or the cranial nerve
- Stress and depression
Approximately 50 million people in the United States are estimated to have tinnitus, and one in four people will experience it at least once in their lifetime.
The impact tinnitus has on a person’s life can vary enormously. Some people can completely ignore their tinnitus and for many others, tinnitus is only a mild irritation. However, for the unfortunate few, it is totally debilitating. People with severe tinnitus often experience problems with depression, insomnia, or anxiety.
For most of you, your tinnitus can now be treated so it won’t bother you anymore. There are several effective management strategies that can provide relief. Depending on the individual case, some tinnitus treatments may include:
- A tinnitus masker – This devices is a small electronic instrument built into a hearing aid case. It generates a noise which prevents the wearer from hearing his own head noise.
- Listening to a fan or radio
- Homeopathic remedies
- Biofeedback training – It consists of exercises the patient learns in order to control various parts of the body and relax the muscles. When a patient is able to accomplish this type of relaxation, tinnitus generally subsides. Most patients have expressed that the biofeedback offers them better coping skills.
- Magnesium, zinc
- Vitamin B supplementation
- Cranial-sacral therapy
- Medications – There are some medications utilized to suppress tinnitus. Some patients benefit with these drugs, and others do not.
- Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) – This therapy attempts to retrain your brain into perceiving the tinnitus in a different way.
- Avoidance – Is your tinnitus sensitive to caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, aspirin, high fat diet or excess sodium intake?
- In cases where hearing loss is also present, tinnitus often improves when a hearing instrument is properly fitted.
- Sound therapy – Sound therapy involves the use of a sound-generating device as part of an overall program designed by an audiologist that includes informational counseling and other activities to help ease the stress of tinnitus.
It is very important to note that there is not one treatment that will work for each individual. You need to try various approaches. Don’t just stick with one method.
In general, tinnitus treatments may not make the tinnitus disappear completely, but they may make it less noticeable and ease your stress and anxiety from it.
For those individuals who suffer daily from chronic tinnitus and have been told “there is nothing you can do for your tinnitus, just learn to live with it”, we offer tinnitus evaluations, consultations and some types of treatments. If we are unable to treat your tinnitus at our center, we will guide you in the proper direction to other treatment options. The first step for sudden, chronic or changing tinnitus is an audiologic and medical evaluation. If you have not had a comprehensive audiologic evaluation and medical work-up, contact your primary care physician or ask us for a referral at CHEARS Hearing Center.