Tinnitus is the perception of sound when there is no audible external sound produced. It is classically described as the ringing of ears but there can be many variants of tinnitus. Some individuals who suffer from tinnitus describe it as a:
- or the commonest form, a steady high-pitched ringing
It is a common condition that affects 10-15% of the world’s population and has affected as many as 50 million Americans. Typically occurring in those 50 years and above, other risk factors for tinnitus includes:
- cardiovascular disease,
- thyroid disorders,
- ingestion of ototoxic medication,
- exposure to loud noises,
- and more.
Unfortunately, tinnitus also affects children and adolescents. Tinnitus is a symptom of an underlying disorder and not a disease. The causes of tinnitus are endless, and most are unable to be determined. Tinnitus can be annoying and disruptive to our daily lives but the majority of those afflicted are able to adapt to it and continue with their daily routines with minimal disruption. For a small portion of patients, their tinnitus is severe and debilitating and thus prevents them from living a normal life. This group of patients are almost willing to try any treatment that can provide them the slightest relief. Those severely affected may also experience symptoms such as:
- poor concentration
- and poor performance in work or school
Since there are many disorders that causes tinnitus, the logical treatment and management plan would be to address the specific underlying disorder. However, since the underlying causes of tinnitus can rarely be determined, the treatment and management of tinnitus is aimed at the symptomatic relief of tinnitus.
Natural Remedies for Tinnitus
There are natural remedies that are available for the treatment of tinnitus. Some of these options may or may not have been clinically studied but for those who are willing to try it, do remember to discuss it with your primary care physician before starting a new treatment regime as you never know how these natural remedies could affect you.
There have been many who claim that caffeine can aggravate your tinnitus. Although this claim has been backed up by research who concluded that caffeine prevents the body’s capability to restore hearing after there is ear injury due to exposure to loud noises, there are also other studies that claims that caffeine has no significant effect on tinnitus. This research team also concluded that stopping your caffeine intake abruptly can worsen your tinnitus due to caffeine withdrawal. Another research also concluded that caffeine may prevent tinnitus. This research team based on Boston found that women who drank more than 5 cups of coffee have a 15% lower risk of developing tinnitus compared to those who drank one and a half cups of coffee daily.
Keep a journal
Learn what aggravates or relieves your tinnitus. Some patients report that there are certain foods, drinks, or medication that can worsen their symptoms. By keeping a journal of your symptoms and observing how it affects you, you can avoid the triggers and practice habits that helps alleviate your tinnitus. Some of the foods that usually worsens tinnitus include alcohol, aspirin, and salt.
Smoking can worsen your tinnitus in two ways. It causes blood vessels to narrow and reduces the blood flow to the sensitive nerve cells that helps your hearing. Smoking also acts as a stimulant in the body which can cause your ears to ring louder.
When you are in total silence, it can worsen your tinnitus as you have less distractions. Try playing soothing sounds which are available through phone apps and are even free!
There have been some claims that suggest N-acetyl-L-cysteine being effective for tinnitus. Gingko biloba has also been shown to be effective in some patients as it may help by increasing blood circulation in the body.
If you suspect that your high blood pressure may be responsible for your tinnitus, you can try to control your tinnitus through lifestyle changes such as having a healthier diet, exercise more, and weight loss. You can also avoid exposure to loud noises by not listening to music using earphones. Ensure that you get adequate sleep and rest.
Relaxation therapy, education, and counseling
This is important as stress can worsen tinnitus. If you find that you cannot cope by practicing breathing exercises or using any other relaxation techniques, you may want to try consulting a professional to try tinnitus retraining therapy. Educating the patients are also important as it teaches them the best ways to deal with their symptoms.
To dull the intensity and volume of tinnitus, masking devices and hearing aids can be useful to drown out the annoying noise. Some patients opt to use a white noise machine, or apps on their phones or videos to help them fall asleep or concentrate.
Cleaning your ears
Contrary to popular belief, most people think that it is good to clean out earwax using Q-tips. This is not always the best practice as it can contribute to earwax blockages, infections in the ear, and damage as earwax functions to protect your ear canal by trapping dirt. Talk to your doctor about safe ways of removing your earwax safely so it does not accumulate and harden.
Avoid over medicating yourself
Some medications have been shown to aggravate tinnitus. Recreational drugs, smoking, and alcohol can also aggravate tinnitus. If you suspect your medication of aggravating your tinnitus, talk to your doctor about finding an alternative.
Conclusion on Natural Remedies for Tinnitus
There are many treatment options that are available for tinnitus. The best way to find out what works best for you is by trial and error and working together with your doctor to determine what should and should not be tried. A treatment that works for one patient does not necessarily it will be effective for you as well.