What are the various Treatments for Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a condition characterized by experiencing ringing or buzzing sounds in one or both ears, usually with no external origin and there are various treatments available. Despite the noises heard, these sounds are usually inaudible to the people around you. It’s not uncommon to suffer from Tinnitus – statistics show that up to 15-20% of the population experience it, with those over 50 being more susceptible.
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What causes tinnitus & what are its possible treatments?
Healthcare providers are uncertain as to the source of the tinnitus. It is theorized that an irregularity in the auditory part of one’s brain may be a contributing factor, however how or why this occurs, or ways to avoid it are yet to be determined.
Tinnitus is often the result of another medical issue, such as age-related hearing loss, an ear injury, or a circulatory system disorder. Through different treatments, the symptoms of tinnitus can be reduced or even masked so that it is less noticeable for individuals. This is usually achieved by treating the underlying cause, or other methods that can help reduce the sound.
Tinnitus is an auditory phenomenon where you experience a ringing sound in your ears, even without any external noise. It can also result in other types of ghostly noises, including:
A lot of individuals with tinnitus only experience it subjectively, meaning that the noises are audible only to them. The pitch of these sounds can range from a deep rumble to a high knell and it can be heard in either one or both ears. Noise levels in certain situations can be disruptive and make it difficult for you to hear external sounds or focus. This is called tinnitus, and it can either persist continuously or come & go.
In rare situations, you might experience a pulsing or whooshing sound in your ears, sometimes in tune with your pulse. Tinnitus with a rhythmical beat is pulsatile tinnitus. If you experience pulsatile tinnitus, your doctor may be able to detect it during a physical exam. This is objective tinnitus and can help them understand the symptoms and recommend treatment options.
Diagnosis & Treatments for Tinnitus
Usually, a doctor will diagnose you with tinnitus based on your reported symptoms and treatments are according to them. To treat it properly, they may conduct additional tests to see if another medical issue is causing the tinnitus. However, there may be no underlying medical condition leading to the symptoms.
To ascertain the cause of your tinnitus, your doctor may go through your medical records and inspect your ears, head & neck. Standard tests consist of:
- An audiological exam typically involves you in a soundproof room wearing headphones, with sounds being put into one ear at a time. This helps experts evaluate your hearing ability. By tracking your responses when you hear a sound, we can compare it to the results of what’s normal for someone within your age group. This allows us to rule out or verify potential sources of tinnitus.
- During an examination, your physician may ask you to perform certain movements such as eye movement, jaw clenching & neck or limb movement. This can help diagnose the cause of your tinnitus & provide a better understanding of whether it gets worse or changes.
- Depending on the root cause of your tinnitus, there requires imaging tests like CT and MRI scans required. These tests can help narrow down the source of this condition to find an effective treatment.
- Your physician may take a sample of your blood to run laboratory tests and check for signs of anemia, heart disease, thyroid issues, or deficiencies in vitamins.
Treatments for Tinnitus: Sound characteristics
Make sure to be as detailed as possible when describing the kind of noises you hear to your doctor. This will help them in determining a potential cause for your tinnitus issue. The sound characteristics that you mention will also provide them with crucial information.
- A clicking sound in your ear could mean that the contraction of muscles around the ear is causing your tinnitus. This can be a possible explanation for the noise you’re hearing.
- You may experience pulsing, rushing, or humming noises in your ears, which are generally by vascular conditions such as high blood pressure. It can occur when you exercise or when you change your position, like going from laying down to standing up.
- A low-pitched ringing sound may indicate a blockage in the ear canal, Meniere’s disease, or stiff bones of the inner ear (otosclerosis).
- For many people, ringing in their ears is the most common symptom of tinnitus. It’s usually the result of exposure to loud sounds, hearing loss, or taking certain medications. In some cases, an acoustic neuroma can lead to a continuous, high-pitched ringing noise in one ear.
Treatment for Tinnitus
If your tinnitus is due to an underlying medical condition, then treatments would be the best way to reduce or manage the symptoms. Depending on what it is, the treatment could include things such as:
- Getting rid of a blocked earwax buildup can help reduce the symptoms associated with tinnitus. Earwax removal is an effective solution to this problem.
- Blood vessel issues may necessitate treatments such as medication, surgery, or other remedies to attend to the matter.
- Wearing hearing aids can be of great help if your tinnitus is the result of either noise-inducing or age hearing loss relating age. By providing you with improved sound clarity, these aids may help reduce your tinnitus symptoms.
- Not all medications are suitable for everyone, and if you suspect that your meds are causing tinnitus, it is best to consult a doctor. Changes may be there such as reducing or stopping the medication or opting for an alternative one.
Tinnitus is not curable, but there are treatments to make it less noticeable. Your doctor may suggest using an electronic device to suppress the noise, such as a hearing aid, masker, or sound generator.
- White noise machines have been effective solution to deal with tinnitus. These devices offer a sound similar to static or other soothing sounds like rainfall or ocean waves, which can help reduce the associated symptoms. Using a white noise machine with pillow speakers is a great way to fall asleep more easily. Alternatively, setting up fans, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and air conditioners in the bedroom can also generate adequate white noise which allows for a better night’s sleep & reduces the tinnitus volume.
- Masking devices, which are similar to hearing aids, are becoming a popular option for those struggling with tinnitus. These small ear-worn devices produce a low-level but consistent white noise that can effectively block out the ringing or buzzing noises associated with this condition.
Scientists are exploring the potential of using electromagnetic or electrical currents to activate regions of the brain to reduce the effects of tinnitus. Examples include Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS).
How can I prevent tinnitus?
Preserving your hearing health is essential to avoid tinnitus. Have a look at your daily routine and consider how you are exposing yourself to loud noises. You might be surprised by the number of activities that could impact your hearing, such as:
- Protecting your hearing at the workplace is of utmost importance. Whether you work in construction, or landscaping or are around any kind of machinery, earplugs are very helpful in safeguarding your ears and should be there inside ears routinely to avoid noise-induced hearing loss.
- If you’re in an exercise class that has loud music, then make sure to put on earplugs to protect your ears. If that’s not possible, then try and do your workout away from the speakers so you don’t have to bear the full volume of the music.
- Earplugs are a must-have when attending concerts and movie theatres, as the loud noises can affect your hearing and cause damage. Using earplugs will allow you to protect yourself from potential harm while enjoying the event.
- Make sure you’re taking care of your ears when using earbuds by keeping the volume at a lower level. This is an important measure to protect your hearing & avoid any long-term damage.
Treatments for Tinnitus: Medications
Although there is no definitive treatment for tinnitus, some medications may help in relieving its severity or associated complications. Your doctor can prescribe a suitable drug to treat any underlying health issues or psychological disturbances. This includes depression & anxiety that go along with the condition.
Tinnitus is a widespread issue that may be linked to an underlying medical disorder, including hearing loss. Sufferers of tinnitus often have difficulty sleeping and focusing, which can lead to difficulty in daily life activities. This can create feelings of anger, frustration, and depression. Despite intense medical research, healthcare providers are still unable to determine the cause of tinnitus for many individuals. However, although there is no way to cure it, there is a wide range of treatments available. They can offer relief from tinnitus and help manage its symptoms.
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