Tinnitus is a common condition which causes people to perceive a ringing in the ears. According to the Mayo Clinic, it affects around 15% to 20% of people. Tinnitus is typically a symptom of an underlying condition, including:
- Age-related hearing loss
- Earwax blockage
- Exposure to loud noise
- Ear bone changes
When the condition is temporary, it doesn’t tend to cause any damage. But chronic tinnitus can be a problem, as it has no cure. It can cause stress or mood swings, and it may lead to social isolation or constant anxiety.
There are many types of treatment to help manage your perception of this invasive sound. Some tinnitus remedies may lessen the perceived intensity. They may not stop the tinnitus completely, but they can help improve your quality of life.
Hearing a constant noise that no one else hears can feel like a test on your sanity. But there are a few proven tinnitus treatments that make having the condition more bearable.
1. Hearing Aids
Tinnitus is often a sign of hearing loss. When your hearing deteriorates, your brain may process sounds differently. In this case, hearing aids may help a great deal.
According to one survey of hearing professionals, approximately 60% of their tinnitus patients found a little relief when using a hearing aid. Roughly 22% of patients said the relief was significant.
2. Customized Sound Machines
Customized sound machines are medical-grade devices that use sounds tailored specifically to you. Tinnitus patients only wear this device intermittently. But they may experience improvement long after the machine is switched off.
3. Sound Masking Devices
Sound masking devices aren’t personalized but they’re still very effective. They produce a pleasant noise that can partially drown out the sound of tinnitus. Different products may emphasize different aspects of this therapy, including:
- Masking – exposure to external noise loud enough to partially or completely cover tinnitus sounds
- Distraction – the machine diverts attention from tinnitus sounds
- Habituation – the goal is to help the brain reclassify tinnitus sounds as unimportant, which helps you ignore the ringing
- Neuromodulation – specialized sound to lower neural hyperactivity
Traditionally, sound masking devices were tabletop sound machines. Today, there are also varieties that fit in the ear.
4. Behavioral Therapy
For some people, tinnitus may be linked to high levels of emotional stress. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help tinnitus patients live with the condition.
Meeting with a therapist may not stop the perceived noise, but it can help you change negative thought patterns connected to tinnitus, which can improve your quality of life.
5. Antidepressants and Anti-Anxiety Drugs
A tinnitus diagnosis sometimes involves a combination of approaches. Medication may play a part in your treatment process. Although drugs can’t relieve you of those annoying sounds, they could make them a little easier to deal with.
Some common drugs associated with tinnitus may include:
These drugs are meant to address the psychological toll that having tinnitus can take on a person. This includes anxiety, depression, and stress.
Living with Phantom Sounds
These proven tinnitus treatments may not cure tinnitus. But they can help you find a way to cope with it. The main goal is to avoid the negative side effects of this condition.