Do you experience from a constant sound in your head only you can hear? You might be suffering from tinnitus which is the perception of sound without an audible external sound. Instead of the common high-pitched steady ringing that can be annoying and disrupting to your daily routines, some may also hear:
- And more
The volume of the sound heard can fluctuate and can seem to originate from one ear or both ears. It can be a constant sound, intermittent, or even pulsatile. Tinnitus affects many people around the world where approximately 10-15% of the population are affected and in the United States, as many as 50 million. Tinnitus usually affects those above the age of 50 years but is not limited to adults as it may also affect children and adolescents. Many who experience tinnitus have adapted to its’ symptoms but there are also a small portion of individuals who find their symptoms to be debilitating and too severe to the point where it disrupts their daily routines. They may also experience other symptoms such as:
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
- Poor concentration and focus
- Disruption in the performance of work or school
It is important for tinnitus sufferers to understand that tinnitus itself is not a disease but rather a symptom of an underlying disorder. There are many causes of tinnitus and some of the examples that can cause tinnitus include:
- Temporomandibular joint issues
- Allergies such as allergic rhinitis
- Thyroid disorders
- Head and neck injuries
- Tumors such as glomus tumors
- Disorders of the inner ear
- Ingestion of ototoxic medication
Many individuals who first start experiencing tinnitus are always concerned that it is a symptom of a serious underlying condition, but it rarely is. There are underlying causes of tinnitus that can be serious and therefore, it is best to schedule a visit with your primary care provider to rule out any maleficent issues.
Treatment and Management of Tinnitus
For the treatment and management of tinnitus, it is important for tinnitus patients to understand that there is no one cure for tinnitus as the treatment and management of tinnitus largely depends on the underlying cause of it. For example, in the cases of glomus tumors that causes tinnitus, it is a surgical case where the removal of the glomus tumor may potentially provide a cure for the tinnitus. After ruling out the dangerous underlying causes of tinnitus, you can try working together with your doctor to rule out potential causes and find what helps relieve it. Some of the steps you can take include:
Keeping a journal
By keeping a journal of your symptoms and what you have done or eaten that day, you can start analyzing what factors relief or aggravate your tinnitus. In some cases, there have been many patients who claim that caffeine can aggravate their tinnitus while some claim that caffeine has either no effect or even improve their tinnitus. To be sure, analyzing your journal can help you determine what suits you best.
If you are taking any medication for any illnesses, you many want to do some research and discuss it with your doctor to see if it has the potential to aggravate your tinnitus. Some of the drugs that can worsen tinnitus include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen
- Antibiotics – Ciprofloxacin, Doxycycline, Gentamicin, Erythromycin, Vancomycin and more
- Antimalarial drugs – Chloroquine, Quinine, Anticonvulsants 0 Carbamazepine, Valproic acid
- Cancer drugs – Cisplatin, Vincristine
- Loop diuretics – Bumetanide, Furosemide
- Tricyclic antidepressants – Amitriptyline, Clomipramine, Imipramine
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
If you think that you may require some professional help, cognitive behavioral therapy is a method that employs a cognitive restructuring and relaxation technique that helps you to perceive tinnitus differently. Those who opt for CBT are tasked with keeping a journal and are given “homework” that aims to help them build their coping skills. The total duration of the therapy is relatively short, ranging from weekly sessions for approximately two to six months. Patients who have undergone CBT feel that there is an improvement although the tinnitus continued to be loud and disruptive but became significantly less bothersome with an improvement in the quality of life.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
This method of therapy aims to acclimatize the auditory system to the tinnitus by making them less prominent and less bothersome. TRT involves individual counseling that is used to educate the patient regarding the auditory system, how and why tinnitus developed, and how TRT can potentially help them. It also involves a sound therapy session where a device is first inserted into the ear to generate a low-level noise with environmental sounds that specifically matches the frequency, pitch, and volume of the tinnitus of the patient. Treatment may last as long as one to two years depending on the patient’s progress. There has been as many as 80% of improvements in patients who suffer from high pitch tinnitus.
Just as the name insinuates, masking devices are worn like hearing aid devices that aim to mask the sounds of tinnitus. Masking devices generates a low volume white noise to reduce the perception of tinnitus and make it less noticeable. A device does not specifically have to be used as any background noise can be utilized such as background music, or a device that plays white noise in the background is enough to help. This is believed to be more cost efficient before more expensive specific masking devices are utilized.
Conclusion About Simple Treatment Methods For Tinnitus
There are many simple treatment options that are available for tinnitus. Although it is not a cure, these options can help to improve your quality of life. Discuss these options with your doctor and join a support group, either local or online as it enables you to share your experiences and learn from each another on what treatment options can potentially work to help you best. There are also homeopathic options such as acupuncture or herbal supplements that may be useful as well. Before starting a new regimen, be sure to discuss and notify your doctor.