3 Treatments for Tinnitus
Tinnitus is not just one condition. It is a symptom caused by a range of issues, physical and mental, that can change from person to person. It may manifest as sounds heard in the ear or the head. It may be musical, a high-pitch ringing or even a buzzing to the beat of your pulse. As such, there are a wide variety of treatments and many people living with tinnitus will have to try out multiple treatments to find the most effective one. Here are three of the most common and effective treatments used today.
Hearing aids and similar devices
As tinnitus can be caused by hearing loss or a buildup of earwax, a visit to the audiologist is recommended. Audiologists are medical professionals equipped to diagnose and treat a wide range of hearing and balance issues. Beyond cleaning any earwax and performing a hearing test, they can also fit you with hearing aids that contain tinnitus therapy features, amplifying external noises so you hear them more clearly over your tinnitus. There are hearing aid-like masking/suppression devices that produce a constant signal or tonal beats that compete with your tinnitus, effectively drowning it out. You will need to work closely with your audiologist to find the correct level and pitch for your tinnitus.
Also known as white noise machines, these are freestanding devices that can provide a range of background noise. The sounds provided can range from environmental noise, like sounds of nature or water or gentle music. The constant noise can help people to habituate to their tinnitus and filter it out mentally. While sound machines aren’t often recommended as the only form of treatment, they have proven highly effective in a wide range of cases where tinnitus sufferers have trouble sleeping or relaxing. Over time, sound machine users can habituate their tinnitus to the point that they no longer to use the machine all the time in order to mentally filter out the sound.
Tinnitus retraining therapy
Often using one or both of the treatments mentioned above, tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) is the practice of treating both the physical impact of tinnitus and the mental and emotional effects of the symptom. People undergoing TRT will experience sessions of sound therapy, often with the help of an audiologist, to mask and filter out their tinnitus. However, TRT also involves cognitive behavioral therapy, addressing the many mental and emotional impacts suffered as a result of tinnitus, including stress, depression and anxiety. The end result of TRT is to help patients habituate to tinnitus to the point they can filter it out mentally, as well as helping them manage stress through mindfulness practice, identify triggers and suggesting healthy lifestyle choices.
As well as the examples provided above, there is a range of lifestyle changes, medications and other treatments that may be used. As mentioned, tinnitus is different from person to person, but with the right treatment will provide the relief needed.