Tinnitus Treatment Options

Tinnitus Treatments

Tinnitus is a persistent ringing in the ears that affects an estimated 1 out of every 5 people. It’s a nuisance, but rarely the sign of a serious condition. Its cause can vary, and may be the result of aging, noise exposure, infections, allergies, objects in the ear, or medications. In some patients, tinnitus is such a distraction it can interfere with quality of life. Depending on the cause, there may be a solution to help reduce the symptoms.

Tinnitus isn’t always treatable. In some cases, it’s irreversible; other times, it may disappear on its own.

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Treatment involves identifying the underlying cause and treating that condition when possible. Removing excess earwax, treating a vascular condition with medication or surgery, and changing your medication can all reduce or eliminate the problem.

Other times, noise suppression techniques work best. White noise can be used to suppress the sound enough that it is less of a nuisance. Electronic devices are commonly used to accomplish this; they include white noise machines that produce nature sounds such as rain or ocean waves, hearing aids, masking devices that are worn in the ear like hearing aids and produce low-level white noise, and tinnitus retraining devices that utilize programmed musical patterns at specific frequencies to redirect your attention away from tinnitus. Counseling is often recommended in conjunction with this type of device. Other low-cost solutions include running a fan, air-conditioner, or humidifier at night to help you sleep.

There are no drugs available to cure tinnitus, but some medications have proven effective in reducing symptoms. Certain antidepressants may work, and natural remedies like gingko biloba, zinc, and niacin have proven helpful in some patients, though research has not been able to prove the effectiveness of these treatments.

Ideally, prevention is your best bet, though tinnitus is often inescapable. It never hurts to wear ear protection whenever you’re exposed to loud noise. Keep the volume turned down to a reasonable volume, and avoid using cotton swabs in your ears as these can cause impacted earwax.