Ringing in the Ears Treatment

  • Treatment

    Decrease your intake of salt and stimulants. Salt decreases blood circulation and can cause fluid to build up in your middle ear. Coffee, tea, cola, and tobacco can aggravate tinnitus symptoms.

    Exercise daily and get enough rest to avoid becoming fatigued. Daily exercise improves circulation, lessens stress, and may improve tinnitus symptoms.

    Wear ear protection when in environments where you will be exposed to loud noise. Ear protection such as earmuffs or earplugs should be worn in situations in which loud noise and ear damage is likely (e.g., occupational settings and rock concerts). Do not use cotton balls because they do not provide adequate sound protection and may get lodged in the ear canal.

    Avoid drugs that cause symptoms of tinnitus (e.g., caffeine, tobacco, and certain medications such as aspirin). Medications that may cause a person to hear ringing in the ears are:

    • anti-inflammatories (aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain killers such as ibuprofen and naproxen)
    • antibiotics
    • antidepressants
    • sedatives

    If you take use any of these drugs and your ears start ringing, call your doctor and ask him or her to re-evaluate the drug dosage. In addition, stimulants that can cause tinnitus symptoms include tobacco products and products that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and cola.

    Your doctor is the best source of information on the drug treatment choices available to you.

    If you have tinnitus, you may find that masking it with another sound gives you some relief. Because tinnitus is often more noticeable in a quiet environment, masking produces a competing sound at a constant, low level and makes the tinnitus less noticeable. Masking noises include a ticking clock, music, a ceiling fan, or radio static (e.g., white noise). A tinnitus masker is an electronic device that looks like a hearing aid and produces to cover up the tinnitus noise. Maskers allow people to ignore the tinnitus, which helps them to concentrate or fall sleep.

    If your tinnitus is associated with hearing loss, you may be fitted with a hearing aid(s). Sometimes, patients with tinnitus also have hearing loss. For such patients, a hearing aid may reduce the tinnitus ringing or cause it to stop temporarily. Setting the hearing aid to an extremely loud level can make the tinnitus worse.

    A hearing aid combined with a masker can produce a competing but pleasant sound that can distract you from the noise you hear in your head. This combination is recommended usually for people who have both hearing loss and tinnitus.

    If you have tinnitus, you may want to seek outside support. A counselor or self-help group can help you learn to tolerate the tinnitus and advise you on what steps you can take to reduce the impact of symptoms on your life. The American Tinnitus Association (www.ata.org) is a good place to begin your search for help and to learn more about research advancements.

    If you have tinnitus, you may want to consider biofeedback or relaxation training. Biofeedback involves monitoring the patients’ responses (e.g., tightness of a muscle) to a stimulus, and altering their response through relaxation. By lowering the blood pressure and relaxing the tense muscles, biofeedback aims to increase concentration and relaxation to help a person control their circulation and muscle groups, respectively. Biofeedback may be useful in cases of persistent tinnitus, or in cases in which patients are emotionally stressed. You may also want to investigate the new form of therapy available for chronic tinnitus sufferers called Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT). This therapy focuses on retraining the way the mind processes the sounds of tinnitus. The goal of TRT is to reduce the patient's reactions to tinnitus and decrease the overall perception of tinnitus.

    Ginkgo biloba and vitamin A may help reduce symptoms of tinnitus.

    These alternative therapies have not been tested using FDA standards and have therefore not been proven effective. Alternative therapies should never be used as a substitute for a doctor’s care. Be sure to get your doctor’s approval before using alternative treatments because of the possibility of interactions with other medicines.

    In mild cases, tinnitus often goes untreated. Mild cases of tinnitus may either come and go or present as a single episode of ringing that can be tolerated.

    In a few cases, treating the underlying problem that is causing the tinnitus will eliminate the ringing completely. In cases in which tinnitus is persistent and severe, it can interfere with daily life. Medications offered for tinnitus are usually intended to treat the underlying condition. Sometimes, a medicine may help reduce or eliminate the noise. The treatments offered to help people cope with tinnitus are:

    • relaxation exercises
    • vitamin therapy
    • hypnosis
    • masking devices and/or hearing aids

    Lifestyle changes can help you to reduce the severity of the tinnitus symptoms. The choice of treatment is based on your age, health, and severity of symptoms. In severe cases, tinnitus can prevent people from performing their usual daily activities and from getting enough sleep and rest.

    Contact your physician if your tinnitus symptoms get worse. Hearing problems that are persistent and affect your lifestyle may be related to an underlying condition. If your initial treatment does not provide sufficient relief from tinnitus, your doctor may re-evaluate the diagnosis and treatment strategy.

    Report any drug side effects or complications to your physician promptly. Drugs prescribed for underlying conditions may have side effects that can potentially aggravate tinnitus symptoms.

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I'm Shereen A. Gharbia, PharmD. Welcome to PDR Health!

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