- Tinnitus Retraining Therapy
Tinnitus retraining therapy is a technique that helps patients tune out the ringing sound in their ears so that it becomes less noticeable. The treatment involves the use of a wearable device that delivers musical tones that mask noises associated with tinnitus.
Long-term counseling is also part of tinnitus retraining therapy. Counseling sessions with a therapist will help tinnitus patients learn more about this condition and ways to cope with it.
- Try Sound Therapy to Mask Tinnitus with Background Noises
Quiet backgrounds make tinnitus noises more noticeable. An effective way to reduce the ringing or unpleasant sound in your ears is by listening to other soothing background noises. This technique is better known as sound therapy.
White noise machines are great devices for this purpose. They provide a distraction from tinnitus phantom sounds. Usually, these devices play stimulating sounds like ocean waves or falling rain to make tinnitus less noticeable. There are also white noise machines built into pillows, which can help you sleep if tinnitus keeps you awake all night.
Alternatively, air fans and humidifiers can create white noises that mask tinnitus sounds when you’re resting in a quiet room.
- Take up Counseling or Join a Support Group
Last but not least, joining a support group is a great way to manage tinnitus. Sharing your experience with other people that have this condition will help you cope better and get the much-needed moral support.
It’s important to note that no single tinnitus copping method works for everyone. Therefore, be prepared to try a combination of techniques in order to find a combination that works for you.
Conventional & Alternative Treatment Options for Tinnitus
If home remedies prove ineffective at treating tinnitus or fail to make it tolerable, you can choose to try conventional and alternative treatments. However, modern treatments for tinnitus should not be attempted without proper diagnosis. Your doctor has to first identify any underlying and treatable condition that may be causing this condition in order to recommend a fitting treatment.
Sometimes tinnitus is merely a symptom of an underlying medical problem that affects blood circulation, brain function, or the auditory system. Depending on the cause or lack thereof, your doctor can recommend one or more of the following treatments for tinnitus:
- Practice Relaxation Techniques
Stress doesn’t cause tinnitus but can make the condition worse. With a few relaxation techniques, you can reduce stress and get relief from tinnitus. Meditation, yoga, and deep breathing are all methods that help to reduce stress. It’s also important to get adequate sleep (at least 7 to 8 hours every night) in order to avoid fatigue, which tends to increase stress levels.
- Remove Earwax Blockages
Excess earwax usually drains out from the ear on its own. However, it can build up, harden, and block the ear canal, causing temporary hearing loss accompanied with tinnitus. Removing excess earwax clears up your hearing canal along with any ringing sounds the the blockage may be causing.
Most people try to rid their ears of excess wax with cotton swabs. This might not be the best solution since Q-tips tend to push hardened wax deeper into the ear. For a more effective solution, try diluted hydrogen peroxide or over-the-counter ear drops.
Essential oils can also soften earwax and allow it to drain out naturally. Try adding a few drops of baby oil, glycerin oil or mineral oil to the affected ear every day until your hearing improves.
If pharmaceutical or natural ear drops fail to remove excess wax, ear irrigation might work. An audiologist performs this simple procedure by washing out the eardrum with lavage or using special medical instruments to extract excess earwax.
- Use a Hearing Aid
When tinnitus is caused by slight hearing loss, hearing aids may provide some relief. These devices restore the ear’s ability to detect background noises, which in turn mask tinnitus sounds. Make sure to visit an ear specialist to get help with choosing the right hearing aid.
- Cochlea Implants
Although often used interchangeably, cochlea implants are not the same as hearing aids. In contrast to hearing aids, cochlea implants don’t amplify sounds or rely on the integrity of cilia (hair cells) in the inner ear. Instead, these hearing implants bypass the damaged sensory cells of the cochlea and send electrical impulses directly to the auditory nerve. Therefore, these implants bring in ambient noise that masks tinnitus sounds.
Cochlea implants are mostly used on people that suffer from severe hearing loss accompanied with tinnitus.
- Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
If the hearing center in your brain is slightly impaired and causing you to hear tinnitus sounds, your doctor can recommend transcranial magnetic stimulation as a possible treatment option. This non-invasive method stimulates small regions of the brain with a coil that generates a magnetic field.
There’s still insufficient evidence to support the efficacy of TMS as a treatment for tinnitus, but this treatment can be an option for patients looking for alternative therapies.
- Drug Therapy
Medications may also be prescribed as a treatment for tinnitus. The drugs used will depend mainly on the origin of tinnitus sounds. Some people find relief from severe tinnitus by taking anti-anxiety, antihistamine, and anesthetic drugs. A Brazilian drug called acamprosate has also been tested for treating tinnitus with great success.
Other medications that have been found to quiet symptoms of tinnitus include Tricylic anti-depressants like nortriptyline and amitriptyline. However, these medications are associated with side effects such as blurred vision, dry mouth, and heart problems.
- Anticonvulsants Such As Gabapentin and Clonazepam
Alprazolam (also sold under the trade names Niravam and Xanax) may reduce tinnitus symptoms. However, it can also cause drowsiness and nausea as a side effect.
In some cases, tinnitus may be caused by certain drugs. This can include medications such as:
- Diuretics like furosemide, bumetanide and ethacrynic acid
- Antibiotics like neomycin, polymyxin B, vancomycin and erythromycin
- Cancer drugs like vincristine and mechlorethamine
- Quinine, the drug that treats malaria
- Aspirin when taken in large doses
- Certain antidepressants
- If your current medications are causing you to hear unpleasant sounds or tend to worsen tinnitus, your doctor can cut the dosage or prescribe alternative drugs.