If you or someone you love has experienced the sensation of ringing in the ears, then you are probably all too familiar with tinnitus. This condition or symptom is estimated to affect around 15% of the America population. It is one of the most common health conditions in the U.S. What can be most frustrating for those affected is that there is no known cure for tinnitus.
But, just because there is no cure, doesn’t mean there are no options to manage tinnitus.
What is tinnitus?
This ringing or buzzing in the ears is most commonly a “sound” only perceived by the individual, not audible to others. While it can be caused by certain medical conditions and medications, it is most commonly associated with:
- Head trauma
- Fluid in the ear
- Noise-related hearing damage
- Age-related hearing loss
Managing tinnitus is a top priority for individuals and hearing health providers to reduce the risk of certain mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression and improve quality of life for those affected.
There are many ways to manage tinnitus. While some involve medication, which is not right for everyone, several tap into the power of the mind itself to reduce the effects of tinnitus.
- Sound therapy – This strategy involves using an external noise such as low-level white noise or specifically calibrated sounds to reduce the sensation of the “internal” noise of tinnitus. This may be done with a masking device, notched music devices and even hearing aids that can provide relief for those suffering from tinnitus. One study on sound therapy found that “more than half the subjects in both our experiments achieved tinnitus suppression.”
- Mindfulness – Mindfulness practices are nothing new when it comes to reducing stress or managing weight, but they are an exciting new way to manage tinnitus. Research like this indicates that mindfulness meditation can in fact help manage tinnitus. In fact, it is proving so effective, that it is being combined with other therapies to develop very promising treatments for this condition. In the most recent study, Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was studied with positive outcomes.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – This structured therapy is designed to help patients identify a “negative thought about a specific situation and then change this negative thought to a more realistic and positive thought.” Originally developed for use with pain, depression and anxiety, this treatment has proven effective for tinnitus which can be a very similar condition.
- Acupuncture and Alternative Therapies – As with many other health conditions, alternative therapies are becoming more common ways to manage tinnitus. These therapies may include acupuncture, hypnosis and even supplements. Research into these treatments and their impact on tinnitus continues to grow.
- Relaxation Therapy – This common recommendation for those with tinnitus involves strategies to reduce the stress that is often part of living with tinnitus. Deep breathing exercises and guided relaxation exercises are two examples of relaxation therapy many choose to practice daily or weekly to reduce the stress of tinnitus.
- Overall Health and Wellness – Research has yet to prove a connection, but many believe that better overall health can help to reduce the effects of tinnitus. Whether it is for better emotional well-being, improvement of underlying conditions or something more, improving total health is often a recommendation to help manage tinnitus.
The bottom line for tinnitus treatment
There may not be a cure for tinnitus, but there are a variety of treatment options, with more possibilities on the horizon. If you are affected by tinnitus, contact our office to discuss options such as these to manage the ringing in your ears.