Tinnitus, or tinnitus, is the sensation of sound to the human ear in the absence of a corresponding external sound. Most often, people hear ringing, but hum, buzzing, whistling, rustling, clicking and hissing sounds are also possible. Tinnitus is familiar to millions of people around the world. For example, in the United States, more than 45 million people, or 15% of the population, complain of tinnitus, while two million have very loud tinnitus. Tinnitus can be a sign of a more serious medical condition, including ear injury and hearing loss (sensorineural or senile). Tinnitus can significantly reduce your quality of life. Treating tinnitus requires getting tested, trying sound therapy, and considering other treatment options.
Method 1 of 7: Making a diagnosis
Step 1. Learn what tinnitus is
Tinnitus can be mild or severe. It can interfere with the perception of sounds and can be felt in one or two ears. Tinnitus can present with ringing, buzzing, hum, clicking and hissing sounds. There are two types of tinnitus: subjective and objective.
- Subjective tinnitus is the most common. It can be caused by problems with the ear (outer, middle, or inner) or with the auditory nerve that leads from the inner ear to the brain. With subjective noise, the sound is felt only by the person himself.
- Objective tinnitus is less common. The doctor can hear it during the examination. Objective noise can be caused by vascular problems, muscle contractions, or diseases of the inner ear bone.
Step 2. Find out what are the risk factors for developing tinnitus
Tinnitus is more common in men than in women and in older people. The key risk factors are:
- age (most often tinnitus appears between 60 and 90 years);
- military service (frequent collision with explosions, sounds of gunfire and military equipment);
- noisy workplace;
- listening to music at high volume;
- exposure to loud noises either at work or outside;
- depression, anxiety, and / or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Step 3. Take a tinnitus test
If you are fluent in English, please complete the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory, which was developed by the American Tinnitus Association. You will need to answer a number of questions related to the impact of tinnitus on your quality of life. This will help you understand how you should treat tinnitus.
Method 2 of 7: Consult a doctor
Step 1. Make an appointment with an otolaryngologist
The doctor will examine the ears with an otoscope (a special instrument with a light bulb). You may also need to have a hearing test and MRI or CT scan. In rare cases, patients are prescribed additional examinations. As a rule, all of these procedures are painless, but they can cause discomfort.
- Sometimes, due to genetic characteristics, the structure of the inner ear bone changes. The inner ear consists of three small bones: the malleus, incus, stirrup. These bones are connected to each other and to the eardrum. It also connects to the part of the ear that vibrates from sounds to nerve endings so that we hear sounds. Otosclerosis can hinder the movement of the bones, which can lead to tinnitus.
- Tinnitus can also be caused by earwax build-up.
Step 2. Ask your doctor about age-related changes
Unfortunately, very often the cause of tinnitus cannot be identified. Tinnitus is often the result of age-related changes, including the following:
- Hearing loss due to age (presbycusis).
- Menopause. Tinnitus is a rare symptom of menopause. Rather, it is a sign of aging rather than hormonal changes. Often, tinnitus begins to manifest itself along with the symptoms of menopause. Increased tinnitus has been associated with hormone replacement therapy using synthetic progestins.
Step 3. Tell your otolaryngologist about the effects of loud sounds
If you are working in a noisy place or have been exposed to loud noises, be sure to tell your doctor. This will help him make a diagnosis.
Step 4. Ask your doctor about blood vessel abnormalities
Circulatory disorders can cause tinnitus. Tell your doctor if you have any of the following conditions:
- Tumors in the head and neck area. They can press on blood vessels and disrupt circulation.
- Atherosclerosis. Cholesterol accumulates on the inner walls of arteries and disrupts blood circulation.
- Anatomical features of the carotid artery in the neck.
- Capillary deformation (arteriovenous malformation).
Step 5. Ask your doctor if the drugs you are taking may cause tinnitus
Many medicines can cause or worsen tinnitus. These drugs include:
- acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin);
- antibiotics (polymyxin B, erythromycin, vancomycin, neomycin);
- diuretics (drugs that remove fluid from the body), including bumetanide, ethacrynic acid, furosemide);
- some antidepressants;
- chemotherapy drugs, including chlormethine and vincristine.
Step 6. Ask your doctor about other causes of tinnitus
Tinnitus can be caused by various medical conditions. Ask your doctor if you may have any of the following conditions:
- Meniere's syndrome. This is an inner ear disorder caused by an increase in fluid pressure in the inner ear.
- Dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint.
- Head and neck injuries.
- Benign tumors, including the auditory nerve neuroma. Tumors usually cause unilateral tinnitus.
- Hypothyroidism (low levels of thyroid hormones).
Step 7. Make an appointment with an otolaryngologist if you suddenly develop symptoms
If, after an upper respiratory infection, you suddenly develop tinnitus for no apparent reason, or if your tinnitus is accompanied by dizziness or hearing impairment, see your doctor as soon as possible.
- First you should make an appointment with a therapist. This doctor will refer you to an otolaryngologist (ENT).
- Tinnitus can cause other problems, including fatigue, stress, insomnia, inability to concentrate, as well as memory problems, depression, and irritability. If you are familiar with these symptoms, tell your doctor about them.
Step 8. Try to treat the condition causing tinnitus
Treatment for tinnitus depends a lot on the underlying cause. The following may help:
- Cleansing the ear from wax.
- Treating an underlying medical condition, such as hypertension or atherosclerosis.
- Replacement of drugs. If tinnitus is a reaction to a certain drug, your doctor may change the drug or change the dosage.
- Try drugs for tinnitus. Although there is no specific drug for treating tinnitus, there are medications that can reduce noise. These drugs include antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. However, these drugs have many side effects, including dry mouth, blurry vision, constipation, heart problems, drowsiness, and nausea.
Step 9. Ask your doctor about your hearing aid
Hearing aids help some people. Your otolaryngologist may recommend a hearing aid after your examination.
According to the American Tinnitus Association, hearing impairment causes fewer sound impulses to reach the brain, so the brain begins to perceive sound frequencies differently. Tinnitus is a consequence of these changes. In other words, when a person begins to hear worse, his brain adapts to new conditions, but sometimes it fails to adapt, and then tinnitus occurs. As a rule, what the person still hears sounds at the same frequency or lower than the tinnitus
Method 3 of 7: Sound Therapy
Step 1. Play soft background music or sounds
Try to drown out the noise with soft background music or other sounds. You can use recordings with sounds of the ocean, stream, rain, calm music, or any recording that helps you.
Step 2. Listen to soothing sounds before going to bed
White noise and soothing sounds can help you fall asleep. Many people find it difficult to fall asleep because of the noise in their ears, because at night a person hears only it. Background sounds can distract you from noise.
Step 3. Try listening to brown or pink noise
Brown noise is a collection of random sounds that sound below white noise sounds. Pink noise is a set of low-frequency sounds that sound lower than white noise. Both pink and brown noise can help you fall asleep.
Look online for examples of pink and brown noise. Find the sounds you like best
Step 4. Avoid loud noises
One of the main triggers for tinnitus is loud noises. Avoid them whenever possible. Some people may not be affected by loud sounds, but if your tinnitus gets louder under the influence of loud sounds, you should avoid these situations.
Step 5. Try music therapy
The study found that music therapy in the early stages of tinnitus development can stop the progression of tinnitus.
Music therapy involves listening to music at the same frequency as tinnitus
Method 4 of 7: Alternative Treatments
Step 1. Make an appointment with a chiropractor
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, which can lead to tinnitus, is treatable with manual therapy. This dysfunction can cause tinnitus due to the proximity of the muscles and ligaments that attach to the jaw to the bones in the ear.
- The chiropractor will carry out certain manipulations that will put the temporomandibular joint in place. An osteopath can also work on the vertebrae in the neck to help reduce tinnitus. The sensations from manual therapy are not painful, but they can cause temporary discomfort.
- The osteopath may also apply a warm or cold compress to the body and recommend certain exercises.
- Manual therapy can also help with Meniere's syndrome, which is a less common cause of tinnitus.
Step 2. Try acupuncture
The results of recent studies on the effects of acupuncture provide hope for those suffering from tinnitus. The acupuncture techniques used on a case-by-case basis depend on the cause of the tinnitus. Traditional Chinese herbs are often used in treatment.
The effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of tinnitus requires further study
Step 3. Ask your doctor about aldosterone
Aldosterone is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland that is responsible for normalizing sodium and potassium levels in the blood. In one study, a patient with hearing problems was found to be deficient in this hormone. When the patient began to receive bioidentical aldosterone, the hearing acuity was restored, and the tinnitus disappeared.
Step 4. Try to listen to sounds of a specific frequency, selected especially for you
This is a new approach that might work for you. The essence of the treatment principle is to find the frequency of the sound that is felt as tinnitus, and to mask this sound with special sounds of the same frequency.
- An otolingologist or audiologist may recommend this treatment for you.
- Special sounds can be found on the Internet at Audionotch or Tinnitracks (paid service). There you can determine the frequency of tinnitus and choose a treatment.
- This method of treatment has not yet been investigated in detail, but the data that have already been obtained indicate the effectiveness of this method.
Method 5 of 7: Nutritional Supplements
Step 1. Take Coenzyme Q10
The body uses coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, to reproduce cells and keep them working. This coenzyme is also an antioxidant. CoQ10 is found in organ meats: heart, liver, kidneys.
- One study suggests that taking CoQ10 tablets may be beneficial for patients with low serum CoQ10 levels.
- Take 100 milligrams of CoQ10 three times a day.
Step 2. Try ginkgo biloba supplements
This plant is believed to have the ability to improve blood flow to the brain. It is used in the treatment of tinnitus, but it does not always work (probably because there are many unexplained causes of tinnitus).
- In one recent study, it was found that the data obtained are insufficient to argue that ginkgo biloba can effectively fight tinnitus. At the same time, results from another study indicate that a standardized extract of ginkgo biloba, EGb 761, may reduce tinnitus. EGb 761 is "a standardized extract from the leaves of ginkgo biloba that has antioxidant properties as a free radical scavenger. The standardized extract of ginkgo biloba is a strictly defined product and is approximately 24% flavone glycosides (mainly quercetin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin) and 6% from terpene lactones (2, 8-3, 4% ginkgolides A, B and C and 2, 6-3, 2% bilobalides) ".
- This supplement is marketed under the brand name Tanakan® EGb 761.
- Follow directions for use.
Step 3. Take more zinc
In one study, nearly half of the tinnitus patients who received 50 milligrams of zinc daily for 2 months improved. This is a fairly large dosage. The recommended dosage is 11 milligrams per day for adult men and 8 milligrams for women.
- Do not take zinc without a doctor's recommendation.
- If you intend to take high dosage zinc, do so for no more than two months.
- Balance the zinc with copper. High concentration of zinc causes copper deficiency and even anemia. To avoid this, take copper tablets. The daily dose of copper should be 2 milligrams.
Step 4. Try to take melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone that is responsible for sleep. One study found that 3 milligrams of melatonin taken at bedtime can reduce tinnitus in men with bilateral tinnitus who have not experienced depression in the past.
Method 6 of 7: Diet changes
Step 1. Avoid salty foods
Salty foods increase blood pressure, which can trigger tinnitus.
Step 2. Try to eat healthy foods
It is important to eat fresh foods that are low in salt, sugar and saturated fat, and try to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Step 3. Try to consume less coffee, alcohol and nicotine
All of these substances can cause tinnitus. Try to limit your intake of these substances. It is not fully understood why exactly coffee, alcohol and nicotine can cause and intensify tinnitus. Because tinnitus can be a symptom of a wide variety of diseases, the response to these substances can be due to the individual characteristics of the body.
- Avoiding these substances may not have any effect on tinnitus. One study suggests that tinnitus has nothing to do with the amount of caffeine consumed. Another study found that alcohol can reduce tinnitus in older people.
- Watch what happens when you consume caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine. Pay attention to whether the tinnitus is affected by these factors. If the noise increases or becomes more difficult to deal with, discard the substance that causes the reaction.
Method 7 of 7: How to Get Help
Step 1. Try cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a psychotherapy approach that combines techniques such as cognitive restructuring and relaxation to alter a person's response to a stimulus. In the case of tinnitus, this therapy can make the person less susceptible to tinnitus.
- Your therapist will teach you to be more comfortable with your tinnitus. The therapist's job will be to help you get used to the noise and stop noticing it. The therapist will explain to you what tinnitus is and teach you a number of relaxation techniques. You can change how you feel about tinnitus and make it easier for you to live with it.
- One of the recent studies of this technique says that it does not reduce noise levels, but it helps a person to change their perception of noise. The person stops experiencing stress and anxiety, and the quality of life improves.
- A recent study on therapies for tinnitus indicates that the combination of sound therapy (background sounds) and cognitive behavioral therapy is the most effective.
- Another study compared the results of 95 scientific publications on the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy and addiction training in the treatment of tinnitus. Each of the studies used standardized and validated questionnaires. Researchers have found that cognitive behavioral therapy and addiction training are equally effective.
Step 2. Join a support group
It may be helpful for you to seek out a support group among people who are familiar with tinnitus, especially if tinnitus is making you feel depressed or anxious.
A support group can help you find a way to get used to tinnitus
Step 3. See a psychotherapist
Anxiety and depression can cause tinnitus and vice versa. If you have symptoms, see a specialist. Depression and anxiety are most common before tinnitus, but they can also develop as a result of tinnitus. The sooner you find a way to deal with tinnitus, anxiety and / or depression, the faster you will feel better.