Treatment of tinnitus involves diagnosing and treating the underlying cause, treatments to mask or reduce the noise, coping mechanisms, and lifestyle medications. There is no single best treatment for tinnitus. Tinnitus can be difficult to treat and often requires more than one treatment modality. Treatment options include:
- Treating the underlying cause: Treating underlying may include:
- Earwax removal
- Treating blood vessel abnormalities with medication or surgery
- Discontinuing or changing the medication that may cause tinnitus
- Noise suppression: The doctor may recommend using an electronic device to suppress the noise, such as white noise machines.
- Hearing aids: These are used to correct hearing loss.
- Masking devices: These are worn in the ear, which is similar to hearing aids, and they produce a continuous, low-level white noise that suppresses tinnitus symptoms.
- Tinnitus retraining: This is a wearable device that delivers individually programmed tonal music to mask specific frequencies of the tinnitus experienced by the patient.
- Medications: Medications cannot cure tinnitus, but medications such as tricyclic antidepressants and alprazolam may help reduce the severity of symptoms or complications.
- Nutritional supplements: These containing ginkgo Bilbao, zinc, and vitamin B may help reduce tinnitus.
What causes tinnitus?
Numerous health conditions can cause or worsen tinnitus. In many cases, an exact cause is never found.
Some common causes of tinnitus include:
- Hearing loss
- Ear block
- Exposure to loud noise
- Damage to the middle ear bones
- Meniere's disease, which is an inner ear disease that presents with tinnitus, loss of hearing, and giddiness
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
- Head injuries or neck injuries can affect the inner ear, hearing nerves, or brain function linked to hearing, and such injuries generally cause tinnitus in only one ear
- Acoustic neuroma, which is a tumor arising from the nerve that runs from the brain to the inner ear that controls balance and hearing
- Eustachian tube dysfunction
- Muscle spasms in the inner ear
- Atherosclerosis (plaque buildup) of the blood vessels in the inner ear
- Head and neck tumors
- High blood pressure
- Turbulent blood flow in the neck
- Malformation of capillaries (tiny blood vessels) in the ear
- Certain medications
Lifestyle modifications and home remedies
Tinnitus can't be completely cured. Hence, certain coping mechanisms and lifestyle modifications can help make the condition more manageable. These include:
- Avoid possible irritants that worsen tinnitus.
- Masking the noise: Tinnitus is usually worse in a quiet setting. Hence, soft music or the sound of a fan can help mask the noise due to tinnitus.
- Manage stress because stress can make tinnitus worse.
- Reduce your alcohol consumption because alcohol increases blood flow, dilating the blood vessels in the inner ear.
- Alternative therapies such as acupuncture or hypnosis may be tried, but there is not sufficient scientific evidence that they work for tinnitus.
- Counseling, education, and emotional support are often required to help the individual cope with the stress, anxiety, or depression associated with the condition. Tinnitus can affect the quality of life, ability to focus, and ability to sleep, which can result in frustration.
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