Tinnitus Management

Tinnitus (pronounced ti-ni-tus), or ringing in the ears, is the sensation of hearing ringing, buzzing, hissing, chirping, whistling, or other sounds. The noise can be intermittent or continuous, and can vary in loudness from person to person. It is often worse when background noise is low, so you may be most aware of it at night when you’re trying to fall asleep in a quiet room. In rare cases, the sound beats in sync with your heart (pulsatile tinnitus). 

Although tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss, it does not cause the loss, nor does a hearing loss cause tinnitus. In fact, some people with tinnitus experience no difficulty hearing, and in a few cases they even become so acutely sensitive to sound (hyperacusis) that they must take steps to muffle or mask external noises. 

Some instances of tinnitus are caused by infections or blockages in the ear, and the tinnitus can disappear once the underlying cause is treated. Frequently, however, tinnitus continues after the underlying condition is treated. In such a case, other therapies, both conventional and alternative may bring significant relief by either decreasing or covering up the unwanted sound.

What Causes Tinnitus?

Prolonged exposure to loud sounds is the most common cause of tinnitus. Up to 90% of people with tinnitus have some level of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). The noise causes permanent damage to the sound-sensitive hair cells of the cochlea, a spiral-shaped organ in the inner ear. Carpenters, pilots, rock musicians, street-repair workers, miners, and landscapers are among those whose jobs put them at risk, as are people who work with drillers, chain saws, guns, or other loud devices or who repeatedly listen to loud music. A single exposure to a sudden extremely loud noise can also cause tinnitus.

How Is Tinnitus Treated?

  • It depends on what’s to blame for the ringing.
  • If a medication is the trigger, your physician might suggest that you stop taking it or change to a different drug. Never stop a medicine on your own without talking to your physician.
  • If a health issue like high blood pressure is the cause, your doctor can work with you to treat it. Often, the ringing will improve when you get the condition under control.
  • If the problem is too much earwax, the doctor can remove the buildup gently. Don’t use cotton swabs to try to do it yourself.
    Other treatment options may include:

Hearing aids: These devices can help with age-related hearing loss and tinnitus. They make the sounds you need to hear louder and make the ringing harder to notice. The hearing aids act as a tinnitus masker by amplifying other sounds for individuals with hearing loss. Thus, prolonged usage of hearing aids can help individuals with hearing loss by providing relief and by overcoming the harsh effects of tinnitus. Consult your audiologist at the earliest should you have any questions or concerns.

Sound maskers: You wear them in or behind your ear to create constant, low-level white noise. This helps block the ringing. You might also try a white noise machine near your bed at night to help you sleep. You may also take help of tinnitus relief apps on your phones in order to choose a variety of sounds that may suit your needs.

Retraining therapy: You get counseling and wear a gadget that masks the ringing with tonal music.

Relaxation techniques: Tinnitus can get worse when you’re stressed. You might find ways to ease your worries, like exercise, deep breathing, or biofeedback.