Tinnitus is the term used to describe the condition of having ringing, buzzing, or noise in the ear or originating from the head. The word tinnitus is Latin and literally means ringing.
Treating the Cause
Tinnitus can be caused by many things, and is usually a symptom of an underlying condition. The treatment for your particular tinnitus will depend on the condition that is causing it, the severity, any accompanying issues such as hearing loss, and the impact the tinnitus has on daily activities.
Common causes of tinnitus include:
- Stress and depression
- Hearing loss
- Exposure to loud noises
- Earwax buildup or blockages
- Abnormal bone growth in the ear
- Meniere's disease
- Head or neck injuries
- Benign tumor of the cranial nerve
In order to find out the root cause of your tinnitus, your physician or audiologist will conduct a complete history, as well as a complete examination.
What Treatments are Available?
Depending on the cause of your tinnitus and other factors, several treatments are available, including medical options as well as alternative therapies.
A common treatment is acoustic therapy or sound therapy. Sound therapy makes use of sounds to help the brain re-focus and diminish the emotional impact of the tinnitus.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
One treatment that incorporates sound therapy is called Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), also known as habituation therapy. This therapy attempts to retrain your brain into perceiving the tinnitus in a different way.
About 75% of people with tinnitus are not bothered by it because their brains process it and file it as another everyday noise. TRT tries to teach your brain how to process the noise so that it doesn't bother you anymore (or not as much).
Medications may be an option, especially if they are used to treat an underlying condition and relieve its symptoms. However, no medications have been approved specifically for the treatment of tinnitus.
Your physician or audiologist may also suggest a referral for psychological treatment or support, as tinnitus can be life-changing and hard to deal with, especially when it is a chronic problem. A tinnitus support group may also be of help.
After treatment has taken place, further maintenance is important. This may include management of associated health problems or ongoing therapies to support health and manage tinnitus.
For more information on this topic, please refer to the Tinnitus Overview