Tinnitus Treatment Options
Tinnitus is the term used to describe the condition of having ringing, buzzing, or noise in the ear or originating from the head. The word tinnitus is Latin and literally means ringing.
Treating the Cause
Tinnitus can be caused by many things, and is usually a symptom of an underlying condition. The treatment for your particular tinnitus will depend on the condition that is causing it, the severity, any accompanying issues such as hearing loss, and the impact the tinnitus has on daily activities.
Common causes of tinnitus include:
- Stress and depression
- Hearing loss
- Exposure to loud noises
- Earwax buildup or blockages
- Abnormal bone growth in the ear
- Meniere’s disease
- Head or neck injuries
- Benign tumor of the cranial nerve
- Side effect of medications
- High blood pressure
- Other disorders such as depression & anxiety
In order to find out the root cause of your tinnitus, your physician or hearing specialist will conduct a complete medical history, as well as a complete examination.
What Treatments are Available?
Depending on the cause of your tinnitus and other factors, several treatments are available, including medical options as well as alternative therapies. A common treatment is acoustic therapy or sound therapy. Sound therapy makes use of sounds to help the brain re-focus and diminish the emotional impact of the tinnitus.
Generally, most patients will not need any medical treatment for their tinnitus. For patients who are greatly bothered by tinnitus, they may use some masking techniques such as listening to a fan or radio which would mask some of their tinnitus. In addition, other sound source generators can be obtained and be adjusted to sound-like environmental sounds and this is also effective in masking tinnitus. This generally is more advantageous if one is attempting to go to sleep. A tinnitus masker is utilized in some patients. It 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. It is based on the principle that most individuals with tinnitus can better tolerate outside noise than they can their own inner head noise.
Biofeedback training is effective in reducing the tinnitus in some patients. It consists of exercises in which the patient learns to control the 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.
We have also acquired a NeurOptimal System that allows for individuals with Tinnitus to come in and train their brain through Biofeedback to drastically reduce and in some cases eliminate the issue altogether. This treatment greatly reduces the anxiety and sleep challenges that arise from tinnitus. We now have a Zengar Certified NeuroOptimal Trainer in the office to administer treatment.
Other measures to control tinnitus include making every attempt to avoid anxiety, as this will increase your tinnitus. You should make every attempt to obtain adequate rest and avoid over fatigue because generally patients who are tired seem to notice their tinnitus more. The use of nerve stimulants is to be avoided. Therefore, excessive amounts of coffee and smoking should be avoided. Tinnitus will not cause you to go deaf and statistically, 50 percent of patients may express that their tinnitus with time decreases or is hardly perceptible.
There are other medications which have been utilized to suppress tinnitus. Some patients benefit with these drugs and others do not. Each patient has an individual response to medication, and what may work for one patient may not work for another. Some of these medications have been proven, however, to decrease the intensity of the tinnitus and make it much less noticeable to the patient. There is, however, no drug anywhere which will remove tinnitus completely and forever. There are some drugs which will also cause tinnitus. If you have tinnitus and are on medication, you should discuss the symptom of tinnitus with your physician. In many instances, once the drug is discontinued the tinnitus will no longer be present.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
One treatment that incorporates sound therapy is called Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), also known as habituation therapy. This therapy attempts to retrain your brain into perceiving the tinnitus in a different way.
About 75% of people with tinnitus are not bothered by it because their brains process it and file it as another everyday noise. TRT tries to teach your brain how to process the noise so that it doesn’t bother you anymore (or not as much).
Medications may be an option, especially if they are to treat an underlying condition and relieve its symptoms. However, no medications have been approved specifically for the treatment of tinnitus.
Your physician or hearing specialist will also be able to refer you to psychological treatment or support, as tinnitus can be life-changing and hard to deal with, especially when it is a chronic problem. A tinnitus support group may also be of help.
After treatment has taken place, further maintenance is important. This may include management of associated health problems or ongoing therapies to support health and manage tinnitus.