Tinnitus Causes and TreatmentTinnitus can be both annoying and distressing. Below, we look at tinnitus causes and treatment.

 

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is ringing, buzzing, roaring, hissing, or other noises in the ear that only you can hear. It can affect one or both ears. In severe cases, the sound can be so loud, you may find it difficult to concentrate or hear actual sounds. It can be constant or occur from time to time. In some cases, there can also be hearing loss.

 

Causes of Tinnitus

Tinnitus can develop due to:

 

Tinnitus Treatment

How tinnitus is treated depends on the cause:

  • If your tinnitus is caused by a build-up of earwax, you can use eardrops to soften and help break it up. However, eardrops can irritate the delicate lining of your ear canal causing inflammation or otitis externa.  Alternatively, ear irrigation may be used. This involves using a pressurized flow of water to remove the earwax. This should only be done by a doctor, nurse or other trained professional. If not carried out correctly ear irrigation/syringing can result in a perforated eardrum.
  • If you develop tinnitus after a cold or respiratory infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
  • If your tinnitus has no obvious cause, such as impacted wax, your doctor will investigate other possible causes. However, in many cases, the cause can’t be found. In that case, you have to learn how to cope with the condition.

There are a number of strategies that can help you manage the condition.

 

Noise suppression:

Tinnitus is often most noticeable in quiet environments. Filling any silence with neutral sounds can help distract you from the tinnitus

This may involve:

  • Opening a window to hear noises coming from outside.
  • Leaving a radio or television on in the background.
  • Tuning your radio between stations/channels which gives a ‘hissing’ sound. This is a form of white noise. White noise can help suppress the sound so that it’s less bothersome.
  • Putting a fans, dehumidifier and air conditioner on in your bedroom can help cover the internal noise at night.
  • Using a white noise machine at a level that’s comfortable and soothing. Some devices produce simulated nature sounds such as falling rain or flowing rivers. There are also white noise machines with pillow speakers to help you sleep.
  • Using a masking device in your ear. This is similar to a hearing aid and produces a continuous, low-level white noise.
  • If you have hearing problems as well as tinnitus, a hearing aid can be helpful.

 

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT):

  • Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) involves using intensive sound therapy in addition to counseling.
  • The aim is to retrain your brain to respond to the condition so that you learn to tune the noises out.
  • A wearable device delivers individually programmed tonal music which masks the frequencies of the tinnitus you experience.
  • Only use someone specially trained in the technique such as a hearing therapist, audiologist, doctor or specialist nurse.

 

Self-help Techniques:

Self-help techniques for managing tinnitus include:

  • Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercise, meditation, and yoga. Stress can make your tinnitus worse so learning how to relax is important.
  • Listening to calming, soothing music can help you relax and also fall asleep at bedtime.
  • Sleep hygiene measures. If tinnitus is interfering with your sleep, adopting good sleep hygiene measures may help.
  • Hobbies and activities you find enjoyable can help distract you from the tinnitus.
  • Joining a support group and sharing your experiences with others sufferers can help you cope better.

 

Medication:

Drugs can’t cure tinnitus, but they can sometimes help reduce the severity of symptoms.

They include:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline and nortriptyline. However, they are generally used only for severe tinnitus, due to their side effects. Consult your doctor.

The above information about tinnitus cause and treatment can help you manage your condition and be able to lead a more normal life.