If you’re one of the 50 million Americans with tinnitus, you know how frustrating and debilitating it can be. While there is no cure for tinnitus, there are things you can do to manage it and minimize its impact on your life. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Determine cause and severity
Tinnitus is a condition that causes a ringing, humming, or buzzing sound in your ears. It can be intermittent or constant, and it can vary in loudness. Tinnitus is usually caused by an underlying or preexisting health condition, such as:
- Age-related hearing loss
- Exposure to loud noise
- Earwax buildup
- Certain medications
- A head injury or skull fracture
- Meniere’s disease
Depending on the cause and severity of your tinnitus, there are a number of different treatment options available. If your tinnitus is caused by age-related hearing loss, for example, you may benefit from hearing aids or other assistive devices. If exposure to loud noise is the cause, you may need to avoid noisy environments or wear ear protection. In some cases, tinnitus even goes away on its own over time. Hence, finding the perfect treatment for your specific needs comes down to deciphering the cause and severity of the tinnitus.
One of the most commonly suggested treatments for tinnitus is the use of hearing aids. Hearing aids can be fitted with a number of features that can help to reduce or mask tinnitus sounds. If you also have hearing loss, hearing aids can provide the amplification you need to hear better, which can also help minimize tinnitus symptoms. There is a variety of hearing aid styles available to suit different needs and preferences. Your provider can help you choose the correct device to treat your specific symptoms.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
Tinnitus retraining therapy may be beneficial for you in addition to hearing aids. This type of therapy works by shifting your brain’s focus away from the tinnitus noise and training it to concentrate on other sounds. For example, the sound of a fan is certainly audible, but you will only be conscious of it if you focus on the noise. TRT applies this same concept to the sounds of tinnitus. If you can stop thinking about the noise, you may not notice it at all, or it will seem much more subdued. As with any type of therapy, TRT takes time and commitment to work. However, with the right training and when supplemented with hearing aids, TRT is incredibly successful in helping to cope with and find relief from your tinnitus symptoms.
While TRT can be helpful in managing the superficial, bodily symptoms of tinnitus, it is also essential to address the emotional impact that this condition can have. Tinnitus can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, isolation, and even depression. If you are plagued by nightly tinnitus, you may also suffer from sleep deprivation, which can worsen the emotional load. Talking with a counselor or joining a support group can offer you the peace of mind and understanding that you need to cope with this condition by allowing you to discuss your feelings with others who share similar experiences.
One way to help mask the noise of tinnitus is to invest in a sound machine. These devices can play a variety of different sounds, from white noise to pink noise to the sound of ocean waves, for example. Some sound machines even come with apps that offer a multitude of different noises that can be played from a speaker system or directly off your smartphone. Your provider can help you determine which type of sound machine would be best for your needs and show you how to use it in conjunction with other therapies or hearing aids to render the most successful treatment.
Preventing further damage
While there is no cure for tinnitus, there are ways to help prevent it from worsening. One of the best ways to protect your hearing is to avoid loud noises. If you must be exposed to loud sounds, wear earplugs, earmuffs, or noise-canceling headphones. These devices will help prevent harmful sound levels from reaching your ears and causing further damage.
When to seek professional medical assistance
If tinnitus is negatively impacting your quality of life, you should plan on consulting with a hearing health provider. They can offer you in-depth information and advice regarding your condition, in addition to recommendations on optimal treatment options.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter, do not hesitate to contact us today!