You have a buzzing 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 things. But after being at the construction site all day (for work), you’ve realized just how loud (and how relentless) that buzzing has become. Sometimes, it sounds like ringing or other noises. You’re thinking about coming in to see us, but you’re not sure: how is ringing in the ears addressed?
The origin of your tinnitus symptoms will greatly establish what treatment will be most appropriate for you. But your own tinnitus treatment will share some common threads with others that can help you get prepared.
What type of tinnitus do you have?
Tinnitus is not uncommon. The buzzing or ringing (or any number of noises) in your ear can be caused by various underlying issues. So in terms of treatment, tinnitus is often split into one of two categories:
- Medical Tinnitus: Some tinnitus symptoms are caused by an underlying medical problem, like an ear infection, excessive earwax, or a growth, among other ailments. Dealing with the root medical problem will usually be the priority of your medical professional.
- Non-Medical Tinnitus: Tinnitus that is triggered by hearing damage or hearing loss is usually referred to 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 treat.
The best way to treat your symptoms will be determined by the underlying cause of your hearing issue and the type of tinnitus you’re experiencing.
Treatments for medical tinnitus
If your tinnitus is caused by an underlying medical condition, it’s likely that managing your initial illness or disorder will relieve the ringing in your ears. Treatments for medical tinnitus could include:
- Surgery: When your tinnitus is related to a tumor or other growth, doctors could do surgery to remove the mass that’s causing your tinnitus, particularly if your symptoms are diminishing your quality of life.
- Antibiotics: If your tinnitus is caused by an ear infection (that is, a bacterial ear infection), your doctor might prescribe antibiotics. Once the infection clears up, it’s likely that your hearing will go back to normal.
- Hydrocortisone: Not all infections can be addressed with antibiotics. Viral infections, for instance, never respond to antibiotic treatments. In these situations, your doctor may prescribe hydrocortisone to help you manage other symptoms.
If your tinnitus is a result of a medical issue, you’ll want to see us to get personalized treatment options.
Managing non-medical tinnitus
In general, medical tinnitus is much easier to diagnose and manage than non-medical tinnitus. Non-medical tinnitus has no cure particularly if it’s related to hearing loss. Instead, treatment to improve quality of life by alleviating symptoms is the normal course of action.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: In some circumstances, you can be trained to disregard the sounds of your tinnitus. This frequently utilized method has helped many people do just that.
- Hearing aids: If your tinnitus turns out to be more dominant as your hearing wanes, a hearing aid could help you manage the symptoms of both conditions. The tinnitus symptoms will likely seem louder because everything else becomes quieter (due to hearing loss). A hearing aid can help mask the sound of your tinnitus by amping up the volume of everything else.
- Medications: Tinnitus is in some cases managed with experimental medication. For instance, steroids and anti-anxiety medication mixtures can sometimes help decrease tinnitus symptoms. However, you’ll want to speak with us before making any decisions about medications.
- Noise-masking devices: These devices hide your tinnitus noises by producing 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 noises your tinnitus is producing.
Find what works
For the majority of us, it won’t be immediately clear what’s causing our tinnitus, so it’s likely you’ll have to try multiple approaches in order to effectively treat your own hearing problems. In most cases, tinnitus can’t be cured. But many different treatments are available that could reduce the symptoms. The trick is discovering the one that works for you.