Table of Contents
6 Tinnitus Treatment Options
There are treatment options that may reduce the severity of your tinnitus.
1. Earwax Removal
Impacted earwax has a reasonably simple solution! If your tinnitus results from a build-up of earwax that’s blocking your ear canal, then removing the earwax should help.
2. Managing Medications
All medicines have side effects, and, unfortunately, some drugs can cause or worsen tinnitus. If you’ve noticed a link between a specific medication and tinnitus, then talk to your doctor. It may be possible to reduce the dose or swap to a different medicine.
3. Hearing Aids
Age-related hearing loss is the most common cause of tinnitus. If you have hearing loss, then a hearing aid may improve your tinnitus as well as your hearing. Sometimes, the hearing aid is all you need, and sometimes it’s one of several techniques used to manage your tinnitus.
If you need a hearing aid, then you’ll get the most benefit by wearing it throughout your waking hours. It can seem very odd at first, but you will get used to the device’s feel and the sensation of everyday sounds. And your audiologist will follow up with you regularly to check that the device is working, fitting well and meeting your needs.
4. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be of the most effective treatments for tinnitus. That may seem unusual since it’s about your thinking processes rather than your hearing. And yet, it has been shown to significantly improve the quality of life for people living with tinnitus.
CBT is a psychological treatment where a trained professional uses relaxation techniques to reduce your stress levels, challenges your thoughts about tinnitus and helps you get used to its presence so that it bothers you less. You’ll usually have several CBT sessions with a psychologist.
5. Sound Therapy
More studies are needed before we can say it works, but many people find it helps, particularly with acute tinnitus symptoms.
Sound therapy is the deliberate use of any sound that makes you less aware of your tinnitus or less bothered by it. Many people find tinnitus especially annoying in quiet environments, so they might play background music while reading or listening to nature sounds while falling asleep.
Most modern hearing aids also provide tinnitus sound therapy programs.
6. Relaxation Techniques
Living with any long-term condition can be challenging, especially since it comes on top of life’s usual stresses. Making a deliberate effort to relax can help you manage your tinnitus in the long run.
Deep breathing exercises slow your heart rate and help you calm down. You can do them anywhere since there’s no special equipment required. Or you can download a relaxation app or join a tai chi or yoga class.
Continue doing those things that bring you joy. It’ll help to squeeze tinnitus to the edges of your life rather than allowing it to take centre stage.
Is There a Cure for Tinnitus?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for tinnitus partly because tinnitus is not an illness itself but a symptom of another problem.
The goal of tinnitus treatment is to find relief from the symptoms. It’s similar to pain in this respect. Every individual’s perception and experience of tinnitus is different, too, making finding a treatment that works just for you more challenging.
How do you do that? There’s no one answer. Thankfully, there are several different treatment avenues that you can explore until you find something that helps you. Be patient — there’s often a bit of trial and error involved before you find the right option(s).
You may find many supposed cures for tinnitus on the web. Some work, some don’t work, and some are promising but need more research before we know for sure.
To help you judge between them, the British Tinnitus Association regularly reviews popular tinnitus treatments and guides you towards those that are both safe and effective. That can save you a lot of wasted time, money and dashed hopes.
So, what does work? It depends on the most likely triggers and origin of your tinnitus and what works for the individual.
Living With the Ringing in Your Ears
For some people, tinnitus is a mild annoyance; for others, it’s very distressing.
People’s experience of tinnitus varies considerably. The noises can be constant, loud and in both ears, or occasional, soft and only heard on one side. You might perceive one type of noise or several.
Living with the ringing in your ears can be frustrating and tiring. It can also be quite isolating. If you break your leg, your loved ones pitch in to help you with daily activities; they rally around with chicken soup if you get the flu. But tinnitus is like a hidden disability. You don’t look any different and may find that other people struggle to understand how hard your daily life can be.
If you have symptoms of tinnitus, get professional help. Start by seeing your Ear Health health audiologist or GP, who may refer you to relevant specialists.
Secondly, be prepared to try a few different treatment options, as it can take time to find what works for you. Thirdly — and very importantly — continue doing things you enjoy. You might need to tweak things a bit (e.g. listening to some background music while you read), but it’s essential to carry on doing things that bring you joy.
Supporting Someone With Tinnitus
If your partner, friend or relative has tinnitus, encourage them to get help.
Seeing a general practitioner is usually the first step. Because you can’t hear their tinnitus, it’s sometimes hard to remember that they need support. Each person’s experience is different, so the best thing you can do is talk about it — ask them what you can do to help.
Some people struggle in loud, echoey environments like bowling alleys, while others find their tinnitus more bothersome in quiet environments. Make plans together so that the person with the condition can suggest a place that’s likely to suit them.
You can also encourage them to attend other appointments and persist in trying different treatments until they find something that works for them. And try to be patient on those days when they’re battling frustration, exhaustion or distress relating to tinnitus.
If you’re in a close relationship with someone who has tinnitus, ensure you have your own sources of support. It’s not easy looking after someone with a chronic condition, and you’ll need to recharge your batteries from time to time. It’ll help you love them better in the long run.