If you have tinnitus, I don't have to tell you how difficult it is to live with. Tinnitus is the term used to describe the condition of having ringing, buzzing, or noise in the ear or originating from the head. The word tinnitus is Latin and literally means "ringing".
Treating the Cause
Tinnitus can be caused by many things, and is usually a symptom of an underlying condition. It's important to find out what this is, as the treatment for your particular tinnitus will depend mainly on the condition that is causing it.
Common causes of tinnitus include:
- Stress and depression
- Age-related hearing loss
- Occupational exposure to loud noises
- Earwax buildup or blockages
- Abnormal bone growth in ear
- Meniere's disease
- Head or neck injuries
- Benign tumor of the cranial nerve
In order to find out the root cause of your tinnitus, your physician or hearing specialist will want to do a complete medical history on you, as well as a complete examination. You will be asked lots of questions to help your doctor figure out what might be causing the ringing and discomfort.
What Treatments are Available?
Depending on the cause of your tinnitus, several treatments are available to you, including medical options as well as alternative therapies. Several new technologies are being utilized to try and help people with tinnitus.
Probably the most common treatment (apart from direct treatments such as removing ear wax buildup or blockages) is acoustic therapy. Acoustic therapy makes use of white noise and noise stimulation therapies to ìdrown outî ringing and uncomfortable noise, as well as masking devices to try and muffle or mask some of the tinnitus.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
Another therapy that is becoming quite popular is called Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), also known as habituation therapy. What this therapy does is attempt to retrain your brain into perceiving the tinnitus in a different way.
The thought behind this therapy is that about 75% of people with tinnitus are not bothered by it because their brains just process it and file it as another everyday noise. What TRT does is try to teach your brain how to process the noise so that it doesn't bother you anymore (or not as much).
Medications may be an option, especially if they are to treat an underlying condition and try to relieve it's symptoms. However, no medications have been approved specifically for the treatment of tinnitus.
Your physician or hearing specialist will also be able to refer you to psychological treatment or support, as tinnitus can be quite life-changing and hard to deal with, especially if it's been a chronic problem. A tinnitus support groups may also be of help.
Once the underlying condition has been identified and treatments are in place, prevention is very important to keep from ìrelapsingî and to insure further health. This may include maintenance of health problems or ongoing therapies to support health and learn to live with tinnitus.