You have a ringing in your ears and it’s not getting any better, if anything it’s getting worse. It started off quietly enough, one of those “is it really there” kind of situations. But you’ve noticed how loud and constant the tinnitus sounds have become after a full day on the job at a construction site. These sounds can take many forms, such as ringing, buzzing, or any number of noises. You’re thinking about coming in to see us, but you’re wondering: how is ringing in the ears addressed?
The management of tinnitus (that’s what that ringing is called) will vary from person to person and depend substantially on the source of your hearing problems. But there are certain common threads that can help you prepare for your own tinnitus therapy.
What kind of tinnitus do you have?
Tinnitus is incredibly common. The ringing or buzzing (or any number of sounds) in your ear can be caused by a number of underlying problems. That’s why tinnitus is often split into two categories in terms of treatment:
- Medical Tinnitus: Some tinnitus symptoms are caused by an inherent medical issue, like an ear infection, too much earwax, or a growth, among other conditions. Managing the underlying medical issue will usually be the priority of your medical professional.
- Non-Medical Tinnitus: “Non-medical” nomenclature is generally reserved for tinnitus caused by damaged hearing or hearing loss. Severe, constant, and chronic tinnitus can be the outcome of hearing damage caused by long term exposure to loud noise (like at your construction site). Non-medical tinnitus is usually more challenging to manage.
The best way to treat your symptoms will be determined by the underlying cause of your hearing problem and the type of tinnitus you’re experiencing.
Treating medical tinnitus
Your medical tinnitus symptoms will usually clear up when the underlying medical issue is addressed. Treatments for medical tinnitus may include:
- Antibiotics: If your tinnitus is caused by an ear infection (that is, a bacterial ear infection), your doctor might prescribe antibiotics. Your tinnitus symptoms will probably go away when the infection clears up.
- Surgery: When your tinnitus is caused by a tumor or other growth, doctors may do surgery to remove the mass that is causing your tinnitus, particularly if your symptoms are decreasing your quality of life.
- Hydrocortisone: Not all infections can be treated with antibiotics. For example, antibiotics never work on viral infections. In these situations, your doctor might prescribe hydrocortisone to help you control other symptoms.
You’ll want to make an appointment to come see us so we customize a tinnitus treatment plan, especially if you’re dealing with medical tinnitus.
Treatments for non-medical tinnitus
The causes of non-medical tinnitus are frequently much more difficult to identify and treat than is typically the case with medical tinnitus. There is usually no cure for non-medical tinnitus (especially in cases where the tinnitus is a result of hearing damage). Instead, treatment to enhance quality of life by relieving symptoms is the normal strategy.
- Noise-masking devices: Sometimes referred to as “white noise machines,” these devices are designed to supply enough sound to decrease your ability to hear the buzzing or ringing caused by your tinnitus. Certain sounds can be tuned into these devices depending on what noises your tinnitus is creating.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: You can get training that will help you learn to ignore your tinnitus sounds. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a widely used strategy created to help you achieve just that.
- Hearing aids: A hearing aid can help if your tinnitus is becoming worse as your hearing gets worse. When you have hearing impairment everything outside becomes quieter and that can make your tinnitus sounds seem louder. When you utilize a hearing aid it raises the volume of the external world making your tinnitus noises seem quieter.
- Medications: Tinnitus is in some cases managed with experimental medication. As an example, tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be decreased by mixtures of anti-anxiety medication and steroids. However, you’ll want to talk to us before making any decisions about medications.
Find what works
For most of us, it won’t be completely clear what’s causing our tinnitus, so it’s likely you’ll have to attempt several approaches in order to effectively treat your own hearing issues. In most situations, tinnitus can’t be cured. But there are various treatments available. The trick is identifying the one that works for you.