Health

What is the most effective treatment for tinnitus?

Tinnitus is described as a ringing, buzzing, hissing, roaring sound in the ears. It can also sound like a clicking & hissing sound in the ears. Tinnitus can basically be described as the perception of an external sound when no external sounds are actually present. The sounds can either be very soft or loud, high-pitched, or low-pitched. Tinnitus can occur in episodes, or be present as a constant ringing sound in the ears throughout the day. In this article know about the top 10 treatment for tinnitus.

Some patients experience tinnitus in one ear, while some others experience it in both ears. People who have severe tinnitus may have problems with concentration, memory, focus, & sleep. In some people, the perceived sound of tinnitus can be so loud that it interferes with the other actual external sounds & activities.

Tinnitus is not a disease in itself; it’s a symptom of some underlying illness. Tinnitus is an indication that there is an issue with your auditory system, which involves the ears, the auditory nerve that connects the ear to the brain, & the part of the brain that processes the hearing-related information.

A lot of conditions can cause tinnitus, the most common one of these is noise-induced hearing loss. There is no cure for tinnitus. It’s can be temporary, or persistent, its intensity can range from mild to severe, & its onset can be gradual to sudden.

Tinnitus treatment aims to reduce or remove the perception of sound experienced by the patient, as well as its total presence. Tinnitus treatments might not help treat the condition entirely, but they can help improve the patient’s quality of life.

There are a lot of possible tinnitus treatments available. Almost all of these focus on reducing the amount of perceived external sounds in patients.

Top 10 common treatment for tinnitus options are:

Hearing Aids:

Most people begin experiencing tinnitus as a symptom of hearing loss. Once you lose your hearing, your brain undergoes changes in the way you perceive sounds & process sound frequencies. A hearing aid is a small electronic device that consists of a microphone, amplifier, & a speaker to increase & amplify any external sounds to help the wearer hear those more clearly. Hearing aids can also help mollify the neuroplastic changes in the brain’s ability to process sound.

Tinnitus is also directly linked to the degree of hearing loss a person experiences. You’ll notice that the better your hearing is, the less tinnitus you’ll experience. A medical review published in The Hearing Review revealed that 60% of people with tinnitus experienced some level of relief with the use of hearing aids. About 22% of people with tinnitus experienced significant relief.

Sound-masking devices:

Sound-masking devices help reduce the intensity of tinnitus sounds experienced by a patient by introducing some benign external sounds into their system. This device helps partially drown out the constant ringing, buzzing, hissing, or roaring sound experienced by tinnitus sufferers. The traditional sound masking device comes in a tabletop version that is also quite bulky. However, the new modern ones are small electronic devices that are able to fit inside the ear. These devices can play white noise, pink noise, nature noises, music, or other ambient sounds.  These devices can also come in a variety of adjustments & modifications, as some people prefer a masking sound just slightly louder than their tinnitus sounds, while some others might prefer a sound that completely drowns out external noise.

Some tinnitus patients also use commercial sound machines to drown out their tinnitus sounds, while some others might even use a fan, headphones, television, music, & other sources of noise to drown out the tinnitus sounds. Masking, however, is most effective when you use broadband noise, like white noise or pink noise. Nature sounds are much less effective at drowning out any external sounds.

Modified or customized sound machines:

While standard masking devices may help temporarily drown out tinnitus sounds when you’re wearing them, medical-grade masking devices customize sounds exactly according to the severity of your tinnitus. These devices help your brain get accustomed to the tinnitus sounds over time as you wear them. These are only worn intermittently, & not every time. You may get a lot of benefits from using customized sound machines as they provide you long-term relief from tinnitus, long after you stop wearing them.

Behavioral Therapy:

Tinnitus often comes along with a high level of emotional stress. It’s not uncommon to find people with tinnitus also suffer from depression, anxiety, & insomnia.  To help people with Tinnitus live better with their condition, cognitive behavioral therapy(CBT) is used. It helps them to accept their condition and live with it in a more positive, wholesome way.

CBT aims to help patients with tinnitus learn to live with the condition instead of always searching anxiously for tinnitus treatments. This therapy involves a licensed therapist or counselor having regular therapy sessions with you to help you accept your condition better & prevent it from making you overly anxious & depressed.

cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on reducing the chances of a tinnitus patient slipping into negative thought patterns and behaviors by providing them a more positive outlook on life. A study published in the Korean Journal of Audiology revealed that CBT significantly improves irritation and annoyance that often comes with Tinnitus.

Antidepressants and Anti-Anxiety medication:

Tinnitus Treatment involves a combination of approaches. Your doctor might also recommend tinnitus medicines as part of your tinnitus treatment. Tinnitus medicines might help relieve your symptoms enough to help you live a better quality of life.  Anti-anxiety drugs are also a tinnitus treatment strategy as tinnitus patients often struggle with social anxiety and find it difficult to maintain a meaningful personal & professional life.

A study published in the Medical Science Monitor revealed that an anti-anxiety drug called alprazolam(Xanax) is effective against tinnitus.

Other antidepressants that are often recommended for tinnitus treatment include:

  • clomipramine(Anafranil)
  • desipramine(Norpramin)
  • imipramine(Tofranil)
  • nortriptyline(Pamelor)
  • protriptyline(Vivactil)

Treating obstructions and dysfunctions:

Although most cases of Tinnitus are caused by hearing loss, occasionally tinnitus can also be caused by any irritation or malformations in the patient’s auditory system. A problem with the  Temporomandibular Joint(TMJ) can also sometimes cause tinnitus in patients prone to structural abnormality. If TMJ is indeed the cause of your tinnitus, then a simple dental procedure or realignment of your bite may help provide some relief for your tinnitus.

Sometimes excess earwax inside the ear can also cause tinnitus. In fact, mild cases of tinnitus can disappear simply by excess earwax removal. Some cases of tinnitus may also be caused by foreign objects being lodged against the eardrum. An Ear, Nose, Throat specialist(ENT) can perform a special examination to check if this is the cause & suggest the appropriate treatment therapies for it.

Tinnitus exercises:

Exercises can help your overall well-being, & are usually recommended for every illness & disease, except for the ones for which they are specifically contraindicated. Tinnitus exercises can help alleviate your symptoms & reduce the amount of noise in your heart, along with promoting general health & physical well-being.  Your doctor may suggest some specific tinnitus exercises for your particular case, which may consist of several different exercises with varying difficulty levels & challenges.

Aside from tinnitus exercises, you should also try indulging in general stress-relieving activities like yoga, Tai Chi, dancing, & gardening, according to your personal needs & requirements. Excess stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, & dehydration can actually worsen tinnitus symptoms in people, thus it is important to get rid of them to avoid potentially worsening tinnitus.

Mindfulness and stress management therapies:

Researchers have developed an eight-week course of mindfulness-based stress reduction, also known as MBSR. In this, participants learn the skills to control their attention & focus on a particular feeling through wholesome mindfulness training. The program was traditionally designed to bring people’s attention away from their chronic pain in disease that includes a feeling of constant pain & discomfort for patients. However, the treatment therapy has been equally effective for tinnitus treatment as well.

There are also a lot of similarities between chronic pain and tinnitus, which has led researchers to develop the above-mentioned mindfulness-based tinnitus stress reduction (MBTSR) program.

A pilot study published in The Hearing Journal revealed that participants of the eight-week MBTSR program experienced a significant reduction in the perceptions of their tinnitus sounds. This indirectly induced a reduction in tinnitus associated with depression and anxiety.

DIY mindfulness meditation:

Mindfulness doesn’t necessarily start with an eight-week training program. You can indulge in mindfulness by performing small DIY meditation sessions like listening to your favorite music, performing short yoga sessions, taking some time out for yourself amidst your busy schedule, and spending time with the people you love.

All these activities might not necessarily add anything to your life, but will help you live a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life in the long run.

These will also provide you with an outlet for sharing your thoughts & feelings with the people around you, thus taking off a load of a chronic illness from your shoulders and giving you more time to relax.

Alternative tinnitus treatments:

There are many alternative or complementary tinnitus treatment options. These include:

  • nutritional supplements
  • homeopathic remedies
  • Acupuncture therapies
  • Hypnosis treatments

However, these tinnitus treatment options are not supported or proven by science. Most people believe that the herb Ginkgo biloba is helpful in tinnitus treatment, however, large-scale studies have not been able to prove its efficacy in the same.

There are many nutritional supplements claiming to be effective in tinnitus treatments. These supplements usually consist of a combination of herbs and vitamins, often including zinc, ginkgo, and vitamin B-12.

It’s important to note that these dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and their efficacy is not supported by scientific research.

However, certain anecdotal reports & evidence-based researchers suggest that they may be helpful for some people.

Aside from these, your doctor might also give you some medicines for dizziness treatment that arises as a result of some conditions that cause tinnitus. Specifically, Meniere’s Disease is one such condition that can cause dizziness & vertigo symptoms in patients.

Vertigo medicines like meclizine tablet, vertin tablet, stemetil tablet, etc. might be extremely helpful in dizziness treatment.

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