You have a ringing in your ears and it’s not improving, if anything it’s getting worse. It started off quietly enough, one of those “is it really there” kind of situations. But after spending all day at the construction site (for work), you’ve realized just how noisy (and how persistent) that buzzing has become. At times, it sounds like ringing or other noises. You’re considering coming in to see us, but you’re not sure: how is ringing in the ears addressed?
The management of tinnitus (that’s what that ringing is called) will differ from person to person and depend considerably on the origin of your hearing issues. But there are some common threads that can help you prepare for your own tinnitus therapy.
What type of tinnitus are you experiencing?
Tinnitus is not uncommon. There can be a number of causes for the ringing (or whatever tinnitus noises you’re hearing). That’s why tinnitus is usually split into two categories when it comes to treatment:
- Medical Tinnitus: Underlying medical issues, including ear infections, excessive earwax, a growth, or other medical issues, can be the cause of tinnitus. Medical professionals will typically attempt to treat the root problem as their primary priority.
- Non-Medical Tinnitus: Tinnitus that is related to hearing damage or hearing loss is usually known as “non-medical” tinnitus. Significant, constant, and chronic tinnitus can be the outcome of hearing damage related to long term exposure to loud noise (like at your construction site). Non-medical tinnitus is often more difficult to manage.
The type of tinnitus you have, and the root cause of the hearing condition, will establish the best ways to treat those symptoms.
Treatments for medical tinnitus
If your tinnitus is caused by a root medical condition, it’s likely that treating your initial illness or ailment will relieve the ringing in your ears. Here are a few treatments for medical tinnitus:
- Antibiotics: Your doctor may prescribe you with antibiotics if your tinnitus is related to a bacterial ear infection. Once the infection goes away, it’s likely that your hearing will return to normal.
- Surgery: When your tinnitus is caused by a tumor or other growth, doctors may perform surgery to remove the mass that is causing your tinnitus, particularly if your symptoms are diminishing your quality of life.
- Hydrocortisone: Certain kinds of infections will not respond to antibiotics. Viral infections, for instance, never respond to antibiotic solutions. In these cases, your doctor might prescribe hydrocortisone to help you control other symptoms.
If your tinnitus is related to a medical problem, you’ll want to contact us to get individualized treatment options.
Treatments for non-medical tinnitus
Typically, medical tinnitus is a lot easier to diagnose and treat than non-medical tinnitus. There’s usually no cure for non-medical tinnitus (particularly in cases where the tinnitus is caused by hearing damage). Instead, treatment to improve quality of life by alleviating symptoms is the normal strategy.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: In some cases, you can be trained to disregard the sounds of your tinnitus. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a commonly used method designed to help you achieve just that.
- Noise-masking devices: These devices hide your tinnitus sounds by generating enough white noise to allow the buzzing or ringing to fade into the background. Certain sounds can be programmed into these devices depending on what sounds your tinnitus is producing.
- Medications: There are some experimental medicines available for dealing with tinnitus. As an example, tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be decreased by combinations of anti-anxiety medication and steroids. But before you make any decisions, you’ll want to talk to us.
- Hearing aids: If your tinnitus becomes more dominant as your hearing wanes, a hearing aid could help you manage the symptoms of both conditions. When you are dealing with hearing impairment everything externally becomes quieter and that can make your tinnitus sounds seem louder. A hearing aid can help hide the sound of your tinnitus by raising the volume of everything else.
Find what works
In order to effectively treat your hearing problems you will probably need to explore several approaches as the exact cause of your tinnitus most likely won’t be obvious. In most situations, tinnitus can’t be cured. But there are many treatments available. The trick is discovering the one that works for you.