Audiology Clinic of Johnstown

Johnstown | 348 Budfield Street | 814.262.3950
Somerset | 651 S. Center Avenue Suite 201 | 814.443.4500

Tinnitus Treatment

Tinnitus (literally “ringing” in Latin) is characterized by ringing, buzzing, or noises that originate in the ear or the head, and can cause discomfort and stress.

Though this condition is usually not dangerous, it can be a symptom of another health problem or underlying condition. Tinnitus can cause so many stressful side effects, including fatigue, sleep problems, concentration difficulty, memory problems, depression, anxiety, and irritability. Though it's not necessarily serious, it can be quite debilitating.

What Causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus may have several underlying causes. Your doctor may begin investigating the condition by first finding out what kind of tinnitus you suffer from. There are two general types of tinnitus: subjective and objective tinnitus.

Subjective tinnitus means that only you can hear the noise or ringing in your ears. Objective tinnitus means that it may be possible for your physician to also hear the noise or ringing while performing an exam.

Tinnitus can be caused by a number of things from certain medications to a variety of health problems. Your physician will take a detailed history of your health and medications, perform a thorough examination, and possibly order a hearing test or or conduct other tests of the auditory system.

Possible causes of tinnitus include:

  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Earwax buildup
  • Abnormal bone growth in the ear
  • Meniere's disease
  • Stress and depression
  • Head or neck injuries
  • Benign tumor of the cranial nerve
  • Long-term aspirin use

In some cases, the exact cause of the tinnitus may not be found but serious underlying conditions can be ruled out.

How is Tinnitus Treated?

Tinnitus sometimes resolves on its own. Tinnitus may be treated by addressing the underlying condition. Depending on the individual case, some tinnitus treatments may include:

  • Magnesium, zinc
  • Vitamin B supplementation
  • Homeopathic remedies
  • Acupuncture
  • Cranial-sacral therapy
  • Magnets
  • Hyperbaric oxygen
  • Hypnosis

It is important to note that there is not one treatment that will work for each individual.

Sound therapy is another option that can help lessen the severity of tinnitus. Sound therapy involves the use of a sound-generating device as part of an overall program designed by an audiologist or hearing specialist that includes informational counseling and other activities to help ease the stress of tinnitus. Sound therapy includes an individual regimen of listening to specific sounds such as soothing tones or customized music through headphones to help re-focus the auditory system.

In general, tinnitus treatments may not make the tinnitus disappear completely, but but they may make it less noticeable and ease your stress and anxiety from it. Speak with your hearing specialist about the best tinnitus treatment option for you.

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 hearing specialist will conduct a complete medical 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 to treat an underlying condition and relieve its symptoms. However, no medications have been approved specifically for the treatment of tinnitus.

Your physician or hearing specialist will also be able to refer you to 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.