Does tinnitus go away

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Will The Ringing in my Ears go Away?

You may have a common reaction when you first hear that ringing in your ears: pretend that it’s no big deal. You go about your normal habits: you have a chat with family, go to the store, and cook lunch. In the meantime, you’re trying to push that ringing in your ear to the back of your mind. Because there is one thing you feel sure of: your tinnitus will fade away on its own.

You begin to worry, however, when after a few days the buzzing and ringing is unrelenting.

You’re not the only person to ever be in this position. Tinnitus can be a challenging little condition, at times it will go away on its own and in some cases, it will stay for a long time to come.

When Tinnitus is Likely to Disappear by Itself

Around the globe, nearly everybody has had a bout of tinnitus because it’s extremely common. In virtually all situations, tinnitus is basically temporary and will eventually vanish by itself. A rock concert is a good example: you go see Bruce Springsteen at your local arena (it’s a good show) and when you go home, you discover that there is ringing in your ears.

Within a couple of days the kind of tinnitus connected to injury from loud noise will normally disappear (and you chalk it up to the price of seeing your favorite band on stage).

Eventually hearing loss can go from temporary or “acute” to permanent or “chronic” because of this exact type of damage. Too many of those kinds of concerts and you could wind up with permanent tinnitus.

Often Times, Tinnitus Doesn’t Just go Away

If your tinnitus persists for over three months it’s then labeled as chronic tinnitus (but you should have it examined by an expert long before that).

Around 5-15% of people around the world have documented indications of chronic tinnitus. The precise causes of tinnitus are still not well known though there are some known connections (like loss of hearing).

When the triggers of your tinnitus aren’t clear, it normally means that a fast “cure” will be unidentifiable. If your ears have been ringing for over three months and there’s no identifiable cause, there’s a good chance that the sound will not go away on its own. But if this is your situation, you can protect your quality of life and deal with your symptoms with some treatment options (like noise canceling devices and cognitive behavioral therapy).

It’s Significant to Know What The Cause of Your Tinnitus is

It becomes a lot easier to decrease the symptoms of tinnitus when you can identify the fundamental causes. For example, if your tinnitus is created by a persistent, bacterial ear infection, treatment with an antibiotic will tend to solve both issues, resulting in a healthy ear and clear hearing.

Some causes of acute tinnitus could include:

  • A blockage in the ear or ear canal
  • Damage to the eardrum (such as a perforated eardrum)
  • Hearing loss (again, this is often associated with chronic tinnitus)
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Meniere’s disease (this is often associated with chronic tinnitus, as Meniere’s has no cure)

The Big Question…Will my Tinnitus Ever Subside?

The truth is that in almost all cases, yes, your tinnitus will subside on its own. But it becomes significantly more likely that you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus the longer these noises last.

You can persuade yourself that everything is fine and hope that the ringing will simply go away. But eventually, your tinnitus may become distressing and it might become difficult to focus on anything else. In those circumstances, wishful thinking may not be the complete treatment plan you require.

In most situations, though, in fact, throughout most of your life, your tinnitus will often subside on its own, a normal reaction to a loud environment (and your body’s method of letting you know to avoid that situation from now on). Whether that’s chronic or acute tinnitus, well, we’ll only know over time.

My accidental triumph over tinnitus

For as long as I can remember, silence was a high-pitched tone.

Growing up, I had no idea that other people couldn’t hear what I could hear when it was quiet. I just assumed it was normal.

Glenn Schweitzer is finally at peace
with his tinnitus thanks to meditation.

But in 2011, I was diagnosed with a rare, incurable inner ear disorder called Meniere’s disease, and the quiet tone that never bothered me became a fire alarm blaring in my ears.

For me, and for the millions of people around the world who live with tinnitus, the medical term for ringing in the ears, the sound never stops and can drive you completely crazy.

Day and night, I was tormented by the sound. But today, my tinnitus no longer bothers me at all.

A simple exercise radically altered my reaction to the noise. It changed everything.

An invisible epidemic

Technically speaking, tinnitus isn’t actually a condition itself; it’s a symptom caused by one of many different underlying conditions.

Just to give you an idea, hearing loss, head and neck injury, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), traumatic brain injury, infection, vestibular disorders like Meniere’s disease, acoustic neuromas and circulatory system disorders are all known to cause tinnitus. Certain vitamins, supplements and medications can too.

It’s far more prevalent than most people realize.

By most estimates, tinnitus affects nearly 50 million people in the US alone and more than 600 million worldwide. That’s roughly 10-15 percent of the population, yet most people have never heard of it.

It’s an epidemic with no public awareness, one that leaves its victims with little support and even fewer options.

Treatment

There’s no cure for tinnitus, but that doesn’t mean we’re powerless.

Some people naturally cope better than others and find that it bothers them less and less over time. But for everyone else, they’re lucky if they even learn that treatment is an option. Way too many sufferers are told they just have to “live with it,” and that’s unacceptable to me because there is hope for everyone.

We can learn to live in harmony with the sound.

In my opinion, the most important question is: “Does it bother you?”

Because if it does, you can do something about it. It’s the one thing that you actually have the power to change.

Tuning out tinnitus

The real issue with tinnitus is the way we react to the sound emotionally, physically and psychologically.

Our brains are fully capable of filtering out repetitive stimuli, like sound, from our conscious awareness with a mental process known as habituation. It’s how we’re able to focus in noisy places and why we don’t constantly feel our clothing against our skin.

It’s also the key to tinnitus. But unfortunately, it’s simply impossible to ignore a sound that our brains interpret as threatening or dangerous.

We’re evolutionarily hardwired to react to noises that imply threats, and we would never want to miss the sound of something actually dangerous.

The problem is that our brains can’t tell the difference between an imagined threat like tinnitus and real danger, so our emotional reaction is the same. We have a stress response, and it never ends because our tinnitus doesn’t just go away, leaving us in a vicious cycle of frustration and emotional pain.

But we can defuse the entire situation by changing the way we react to the sound.

As a result, it becomes less bothersome, and we can start to tune it out naturally.

Habituation by mistake

When I was first diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, I used meditation to help me cope with the unbelievable amount of stress I was experiencing at the time.

It worked well, too. But, it became increasingly difficult to focus on my breath with the sound of alarms blasting in my ears. My tinnitus was the one symptom that I hadn’t been able to improve.

Yet lying in bed one night, struggling to meditate, I suddenly had an idea.

If meditation was the practice of focusing my attention onto a single point of awareness, like my breathing, what would happen if I stopped fighting to ignore my tinnitus, and focused on the ringing instead?

It seemed crazy, but I tried it anyway. What happened next was undeniable.

A flash of hope

Almost immediately, my mind started to wander. This happens to everyone, especially new meditators. Bringing your focus back, starting over, is the point of meditation, not some problem to overcome.

But this time, my mind wandered away from the sound. The realization hit me like a freight train. For that brief moment, I hadn’t noticed my tinnitus at all. I was elated.

Even more surprising, however, was when I finished meditating, my tinnitus didn’t seem as loud. It wasn’t actually quieter, it just wasn’t bothering me as much, so it seemed quieter.

My brain was beginning to associate the intense calm of meditation with the sound of my tinnitus.

But at the time, all I knew was it was working. After suffering for so long, it felt like magic.

It was my first real experience of relief.

Lasting relief

After this initial success, I continued to practice tinnitus-focused meditation at every opportunity.

I improved so much, so quickly. My stress levels dropped, I was getting better sleep, and my tinnitus was bothering me less and less. I was able to fully habituate over the following few weeks.

There may not be a cure for tinnitus, but there is hope for today, because we can change the way we react to the sound and habituate.

It may not go away, or even necessarily become quieter, but we can get to a place where it stops bothering us and dramatically improve our quality of life.

At the end of the day, that’s what matters most.

Want to learn more?

Tackling Tinnitus: Read more of Glenn Schweitzer’s columns

Also, I recently published a book about my journey called Rewiring Tinnitus: How I Finally Found Relief From the Ringing in My Ears. It’s jam-packed full of tools, techniques, strategies, meditations and so much more.

Tinnitus: Ringing in the ears and what to do about it

Constant noise in the head — such as ringing in the ears — rarely indicates a serious health problem, but it sure can be annoying. Here’s how to minimize it.

Updated: October 23, 2018Published: September, 2011

Tinnitus (pronounced tih-NITE-us or TIN-ih-tus) is sound in the head with no external source. For many, it’s a ringing sound, while for others, it’s whistling, buzzing, chirping, hissing, humming, roaring, or even shrieking. The sound may seem to come from one ear or both, from inside the head, or from a distance. It may be constant or intermittent, steady or pulsating.

Almost everyone has had tinnitus for a short time after being exposed to extremely loud noise. For example, attending a loud concert can trigger short-lived tinnitus. Some medications (especially aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs taken in high doses) can cause tinnitus that goes away when the drug is discontinued. When it lasts more than six months, it’s known as chronic tinnitus. As many as 50 to 60 million people in the United States suffer from this condition; it’s especially common in people over age 55 and strongly associated with hearing loss. Many people worry that tinnitus is a sign that they are going deaf or have another serious medical problem, but it rarely is.

Most tinnitus is subjective, meaning that only you can hear the noise. But sometimes it’s objective, meaning that someone else can hear it, too. For example, if you have a heart murmur, you may hear a whooshing sound with every heartbeat; your clinician can also hear that sound through a stethoscope. Some people hear their heartbeat inside the ear — a phenomenon called pulsatile tinnitus. It’s more likely to happen in older people, because blood flow tends to be more turbulent in arteries whose walls have stiffened with age. Pulsatile tinnitus may be more noticeable at night, when you’re lying in bed and there are fewer external sounds to mask the tinnitus. If you notice any new pulsatile tinnitus, you should consult a clinician, because in rare cases it is a sign of a tumor or blood vessel damage.

The course of chronic tinnitus is unpredictable. Sometimes the symptoms remain the same, and sometimes they get worse. In about 10% of cases, the condition interferes with everyday life so much that professional help is needed.

While there’s no cure for chronic tinnitus, it often becomes less noticeable and more manageable over time. You can help ease the symptoms by educating yourself about the condition — for example, understanding that it’s not dangerous. There are also several ways to help tune out the noise and minimize its impact.

Auditory pathways and tinnitus

Sound waves travel through the ear canal to the middle and inner ear, where hair cells in part of the cochlea help transform sound waves into electrical signals that then travel to the brain’s auditory cortex via the auditory nerve. When hair cells are damaged — by loud noise or ototoxic drugs, for example — the circuits in the brain don’t receive the signals they’re expecting. This stimulates abnormal activity in the neurons, which results in the illusion of sound, or tinnitus.

What’s going on?

Most people who seek medical help for tinnitus experience it as subjective, constant sound like constant ringing in the ears or a buzzing sound in the ear, and most have some degree of hearing loss. Things that cause hearing loss (and tinnitus) include loud noise, medications that damage the nerves in the ear (ototoxic drugs), impacted earwax, middle ear problems (such as infections and vascular tumors), and aging. Tinnitus can also be a symptom of Meniere’s disease, a disorder of the balance mechanism in the inner ear.

Tinnitus can arise anywhere along the auditory pathway, from the outer ear through the middle and inner ear to the brain’s auditory cortex, where it’s thought to be encoded (in a sense, imprinted). One of the most common causes of tinnitus is damage to the hair cells in the cochlea (see “Auditory pathways and tinnitus”). These cells help transform sound waves into nerve signals. If the auditory pathways or circuits in the brain don’t receive the signals they’re expecting from the cochlea, the brain in effect “turns up the gain” on those pathways in an effort to detect the signal — in much the same way that you turn up the volume on a car radio when you’re trying to find a station’s signal. The resulting electrical noise takes the form of tinnitus — a sound that is high-pitched if hearing loss is in the high-frequency range and low-pitched if it’s in the low-frequency range. This kind of tinnitus resembles phantom limb pain in an amputee — the brain is producing abnormal nerve signals to compensate for missing input.

Most tinnitus is “sensorineural,” meaning that it’s due to hearing loss at the cochlea or cochlear nerve level. But tinnitus may originate in other places. Our bodies normally produce sounds (called somatic sounds) that we usually don’t notice because we are listening to external sounds. Anything that blocks normal hearing can bring somatic sounds to our attention. For example, you may get head noise when earwax blocks the outer ear.

Some drugs that can cause or worsen tinnitus

Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including ibuprofen (Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)

Certain antibiotics, including ciprofloxacin (Cipro), doxycycline (Vibramycin, others), gentamicin (Garamycin), erythromycin (Ery-Tab, others), tetracycline (Sumycin), tobramycin (Nebcin), and vancomycin (Vancocin)

Antimalarial drugs such as chloroquine and quinine

Certain anticonvulsants, including carbamazepine (Tegretol, others) and valproic acid (Depakote, others)

Certain cancer drugs, including cisplatin (Platinol) and vincristine (Oncovin, Vincasar)

Loop diuretics (when given intravenously in high doses), including bumetanide (Bumex), furosemide (Lasix), and torsemide (Demadex)

Tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil, others), clomipramine (Anafranil), and imipramine (Tofranil)

Evaluate and treat underlying problems

If you develop tinnitus, it’s important to see your clinician. She or he will take a medical history, give you a physical examination, and do a series of tests to try to find the source of the problem. She or he will also ask you to describe the noise you’re hearing (including its pitch and sound quality, and whether it’s constant or periodic, steady or pulsatile) and the times and places in which you hear it. Your clinician will review your medical history, your current and past exposure to noise, and any medications or supplements you’re taking. Tinnitus can be a side effect of many medications, especially when taken at higher doses (see “Some drugs that can cause or worsen tinnitus”).

Musculoskeletal factors — jaw clenching, tooth grinding, prior injury, or muscle tension in the neck — sometimes make tinnitus more noticeable, so your clinician may ask you to tighten muscles or move the jaw or neck in certain ways to see if the sound changes. If tight muscles are part of the problem, massage therapy may help relieve it.

Tinnitus that’s continuous, steady, and high-pitched (the most common type) generally indicates a problem in the auditory system and requires hearing tests conducted by an audiologist. Pulsatile tinnitus calls for a medical evaluation, especially if the noise is frequent or constant. MRI or CT imaging may be needed to check for a tumor or blood vessel abnormality.

Your general health can affect the severity and impact of tinnitus, so this is also a good time to take stock of your diet, physical activity, sleep, and stress level — and take steps to improve them. You may also be able to reduce the impact of tinnitus by treating depression, anxiety, insomnia, and pain with medications or psychotherapy.

If you’re often exposed to loud noises at work or at home, it’s important to reduce the risk of hearing loss (or further hearing loss) by using protectors such as earplugs or earmuff-like or custom-fitted devices.

Managing tinnitus

In addition to treating associated problems (such as depression or insomnia), there are several strategies that can help make tinnitus less bothersome. No single approach works for everyone, and you may need to try various combinations of techniques before you find what works for you. If you have age-related hearing loss, a hearing aid can often make tinnitus less noticeable by amplifying outside sounds.

There is no FDA-approved drug treatment for tinnitus, and controlled trials have not found any drug, supplement, or herb to be any more effective than a placebo. That includes ginkgo biloba, which is sometimes promoted for this purpose. Some patients believe that acupuncture helps, but it too has been found to be no better than a placebo.

The most effective approaches are behavioral strategies and sound-generating devices, often used in combination. They include the following:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT uses techniques such as cognitive restructuring and relaxation to change the way patients think about and respond to tinnitus. Patients usually keep a diary and perform “homework” to help build their coping skills. Therapy is generally short-term — for example, weekly sessions for two to six months. A 2010 review of six studies by the Cochrane Collaboration (an international group of health authorities who evaluate randomized trials) found that after CBT, the sound was no less loud, but it was significantly less bothersome, and patients’ quality of life improved.

Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT). This technique is based on the assumption that tinnitus results from abnormal neuronal activity (see “What’s going on?”). The aim is to habituate the auditory system to the tinnitus signals, making them less noticeable or less bothersome. The main components of TRT are individual counseling (to explain the auditory system, how tinnitus develops, and how TRT can help) and sound therapy. A device is inserted in the ear to generate low-level noise and environmental sounds that match the pitch, volume, and quality of the patient’s tinnitus. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, treatment may last one to two years.

When TRT was developed in the 1980s by neuroscientist Dr. Pawel Jastreboff (now at Emory University in Atlanta), it was designed to be administered according to a strict protocol. Today, the term TRT is being used to describe modified versions of this therapy, and the variations make accurate assessment of its effectiveness difficult. Individual studies have reported improvements in as many as 80% of patients with high-pitched tinnitus. In a Cochrane review of the one randomized trial that followed Jastreboff’s protocol and met the organization’s standards, TRT was much more effective in reducing tinnitus severity and disability than a technique called masking (see below).

Masking. Masking devices, worn like hearing aids, generate low-level white noise (a high-pitched hiss, for example) that can reduce the perception of tinnitus and sometimes also produce residual inhibition — less noticeable tinnitus for a short time after the masker is turned off. A specialized device isn’t always necessary for masking; often, playing music or having a radio, fan, or white-noise machine on in the background is enough. Although there’s not enough evidence from randomized trials to draw any conclusions about the effectiveness of masking, hearing experts often recommend a trial of simple masking strategies (such as setting a radio at low volume between stations) before they turn to more expensive options.

Biofeedback and stress management. Tinnitus is stressful, and stress can worsen tinnitus. Biofeedback is a relaxation technique that helps control stress by changing bodily responses. Electrodes attached to the skin feed information about physiological processes such as pulse, skin temperature, and muscle tension into a computer, which displays the output on a monitor. Patients learn how to alter these processes and reduce the body’s stress response by changing their thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques may also help.

Other therapies. Other treatments that have been studied for tinnitus include transcutaneous electrical stimulation of parts of the inner ear by way of electrodes placed on the skin or acupuncture needles, and stimulation of the brain using a powerful magnetic field (a technique called repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, or rTMS). Transcutaneous electrical stimulation has been shown to be no more effective than a placebo. In two small trials, rTMS compared with a sham procedure helped improve the perception of tinnitus in a few patients.

Not all insurance companies cover tinnitus treatments in the same way, so be sure to check your coverage. If you’re willing to enroll in a research study, you may be able to receive a cutting-edge treatment free. (For more information, go to www.clinicaltrials.gov, and enter the search term “tinnitus.”)

image: © Katarzyna Bialasiewicz | Dreamstime.com

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Tinnitus Remedies

8. Exercise

Exercise contributes significantly to your overall well-being. Tinnitus can be aggravated by stress, depression, anxiety, lack of sleep, and illness. Regular exercise will help you manage stress, sleep better, and stay healthier.

9. Mindfulness-based stress reduction

During an eight-week course of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), participants develop the skills to control their attention through mindfulness training. Traditionally, the program was designed to draw people’s attention away from their chronic pain, but it can be equally effective for tinnitus.

The similarities between chronic pain and tinnitus have led researchers to develop a mindfulness-based tinnitus stress reduction (MBTSR) program. The results of a pilot study, which were published in The Hearing Journal, found that participants of an eight-week MBTSR program experienced significantly altered perceptions of their tinnitus. This included a reduction in depression and anxiety.

10. DIY mindfulness meditation

You don’t need to enroll in an eight-week program to get started with mindfulness training. Participants in the MBTSR program all received a copy of the groundbreaking book “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Kabat-Zinn’s book is the premier manual for practicing mindfulness in daily life. You will learn about, and be encouraged to practice, meditation and breathing techniques that can help draw your focus away from tinnitus.

11. Alternative treatments

There are several alternative or complementary tinnitus treatment options, including:

  • nutritional supplements
  • homeopathic remedies
  • acupuncture
  • hypnosis

None of these treatment options are supported by science. Many people are convinced that the herb gingko biloba is helpful, however large-scale studies have been unable to prove this. There are many nutritional supplements claiming to be tinnitus remedies. These are usually a combination of herbs and vitamins, often including zinc, ginkgo, and vitamin B-12.

These dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not supported by scientific research. However, anecdotal reports suggest that they may help some people.

Do you have tinnitus and are wondering how to make it go away—or at least get better? You may need to work with a physician, a hearing care professional, and a behavioral therapist to find the right treatment combination for you. Because so many health conditions can trigger tinnitus, diagnosing every case is unique.

A thorough assessment of your symptoms
helps determine the best tinnitus treatment.

In addition to the following treatments, there are alternative relief strategies that may help.

Diagnosing tinnitus

The first step in treating tinnitus is uncovering what may be causing it. One of the challenges in tinnitus evaluation and treatment is that everyone experiences it differently. Measuring a subjective experience is very difficult. A hearing care professional will start by asking lots of questions about your symptoms such as:

  • How long has this been going on?
  • Is it intermittent or constant?
  • Is it worse at certain points of the day?
  • Is it a pulsating sensation?
  • In which ear do you hear the tinnitus? Both?
  • How loud is the noise?
  • Is the pitch high or low?
  • It the issue extremely bothersome or just a little irritating?
  • Are there certain conditions that make it worse such as exposure to noise or certain foods or beverages?
  • Does the sound change?
  • What does it sound like? Clicking, rushing, humming, rhythmic?

The practitioner will also ask you to report your medical history. After a thorough discussion of your symptoms and health history, the examination will begin with a visual inspection of your ears and standard hearing tests. Because tinnitus often co-occurs with hearing loss, you’ll likely have your hearing tested, too.

Tinnitus-specific tests

If medical causes of tinnitus have been ruled out, then you likely have what’s known as neurophysiologic (sensorineural) tinnitus. This can occur on its own, or may be due to hearing loss or loud noise exposure.

A health care professional’s next step is to determine the best treatment. An audiologist or similar professional may use a series of tests to tailor your treatment to your specific needs. Examples include:

  • A pitch match test to help your hearing care professional determine the approximate frequency of sound that you are hearing. For this exam, you will be asked to identify the pitch of your tinnitus as best as possible by comparing it to other sounds.
  • A loudness match test to quantify the level of the sound you are hearing, which could range from a whisper to a shout. It is more common for people to experience soft sounds than loud.
  • A visual analog scale to determine perceived loudness. Tinnitus is often perceived much louder than the decibel level that matches. On a scale from zero to 10, you’ll be asked to scale the loudness. About 70 percent of patients will report a loudness value of six or higher.

Sound-based therapies

Hearing aids for tinnitus

If you have hearing loss as well as tinnitus—which is quite common—hearing aids can reduce your awareness of tinnitus while you are wearing them. That’s because they amplify the sounds you want to hear, helping distract your brain from the unwanted sounds.

Many modern hearing aids include tinnitus features to help mask unwanted sounds.

Today’s hearing aids include tinnitus features to help mask unwanted sounds. These often come with smartphone apps to help you learn behavioral and relaxation techniques for managing tinnitus.

Should you get a hearing aid for tinnitus?

Noise and notched-music devices

Another option is a tinnitus masking or noise suppression device. They’re typically worn in the ear like a hearing aid and produce either a constant signal or tonal beats to compete with the ringing in your ears. Also, devices that play “notched music” (programmed to match and “notch out” the annoying sounds of tinnitus) can help. Your hearing care professional will use the pitch matching and loudness matching tests mentioned above to set the signal at a level and pitch similar to the tinnitus you are perceiving.

You can also use a free-standing white noise generating machine or a special notched-noise machine. Tinnitus generally gets worse when you’re in a quiet space, so being able to bathe a room in background sound might be all you need to help you ignore the ringing in your ears.

Tinnitus sound therapy

Tinnitus sound therapy uses a process known as habituation to retrain the way the brain interprets tinnitus. Essentially, the brain learns to reclassify the unwanted sound as something neutral or unimportant. There are different methods and types of sounds that can help, and an audiologists trained in tinnitus therapy can explore several options.

Tinnitus retraining therapy

Tinnitus retraining therapy uses cognitive behavioral therapy in combination with a masking device to help you learn to ignore the background ringing noise in your ears.

Medications for tinnitus

Although drugs cannot cure tinnitus, there are a few that may suppress the symptoms you are experiencing. Tricyclic antidepressants, like amitriptyline and nortriptyline, are two of the most commonly prescribed medications. If you are experiencing severe tinnitus, one of these drugs may be used. However, it’s important to know that these medications may come with side effects such as dry mouth, blurry vision and heart issues. Discuss any other conditions you have or medications you are currently taking with your physician. Niravam and Xanax can also be prescribed, but each of these medications can cause drowsiness and nausea, and they can be habit-forming.

Let your doctor or pharmacist know if you experience tinnitus after starting a new drug or changing a drug dose.

Some medications can cause tinnitus. The most common drugs linked are NSAID pain relievers, diuretics and the malaria drug quinine—all of which are known to trigger tinnitus or make tinnitus worse. But many others can cause tinnitus, too. If you experience tinnitus after starting any new medication, or changing a dosage, discuss it right away with your pharmacist or physician to determine if you should stop, reduce or change the medications you are currently taking.

Tinnitus can be a symptom of another medical condition, such as high blood pressure or a head injury. In those cases, treating the underlying medical condition may remediate your tinnitus. Sometimes the treatment is simple: Your doctor may remove excess earwax that has built up and blocked the ear canal, causing hearing loss and a ringing noise.

Mental health care is key

Mental health care is an important part of tinnitus treatment. As the Journal of Family Practice states “some patients experience extreme anxiety or depression in response to tinnitus and should be referred to a mental health professional on the day they present with symptoms.” A therapist with experience treating tinnitus patients can use a combination of sound-based and cognitive-behavioral therapies to help you manage both your physical and mental symptoms.

When is tinnitus a medical emergency?

Sudden deafness and tinnitus

If you or a loved one experiences sudden hearing loss along with tinnitus (usually in just one ear), it could be idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss, known as sudden deafness. Prompt treatment can help increase your chance of a full recovery. Steroids are usually given when this disorder occurs.

Pulsatile tinnitus

If you start to hear sounds that pulse at the same rate as your heartbeat, you may have what’s known as pulsatile tinnitus. This can be harmless, but needs thorough investigation since it could be a serious blood vessel or vascular condition.

Suicidal thoughts and tinnitus›

Lastly, if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts and have tinnitus, tell a loved one and seek emergency help right away. While alarming, suicidal thoughts are treatable.

Additional treatment strategies and alternative medicine

There are many behavioral changes you can make that can either help relieve your tinnitus or help you learn to cope with it.

Homeopathy, hypnosis, meditation and acupuncture are also thought to suppress tinnitus conditions. Studies have shown acupuncture can help relieve symptoms of tinnitus, but relief may not be seen until you have completed 10 to 15 sessions.

Regain quality of life

Tinnitus can be extremely frustrating and can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unsure about your next steps. Remember that you are not alone—tinnitus, while not well-understood, is common. To get better, seek out a practitioner who has experience treating tinnitus, and be prepared to discuss your symptoms in detail so you can get relief and regain your quality of life.

Joy Victory, managing editor, Healthy Hearing

Joy Victory has extensive experience editing consumer health information. Her training in particular has focused on how to best communicate evidence-based medical guidelines and clinical trial results to the public. She strives to make health content accurate, accessible and engaging to the public. Read more about Joy.

Tinnitus: Is There a Cure?

Many people who experience tinnitus find it annoying, distracting, or even distressing. If there’s a problem, there has to be a cure, and we’re aiming to find it.

Like many other conditions that affect the hearing, tinnitus can also affect your quality of life. Many people who have tinnitus claim that they find it hard to think, sleep, concentrate, or enjoy silence. Untreated tinnitus can wreak even more havoc on your life, leading to irritability, insomnia, and even depression.

With so many people struggling, audiologists around the world have been looking for solutions that might cure tinnitus, or at least lift some of the burden. However, in order to diagnose and treat tinnitus, the condition has to be studied and understood. If you have tinnitus, or know someone who does, this information might help you come up with some solutions.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is an issue that can take many forms. While most people characterize tinnitus as a “ringing” in the ears, the sound can vary between high-pitched buzzing or hissing, to low roars. The pitch and tone of the tinnitus depends on the person experiencing it. The volume and intensity of this sound can also vary, but cases of tinnitus are often always present.

Many people are capable of blocking it out, while others have to turn on music or white noise in order to sleep and focus. The louder your tinnitus, the less enjoyable silence becomes. In extreme cases, tinnitus can even limit your regular hearing, drowning out other sounds and making it difficult for you to understand others.

Contrary to popular belief, tinnitus isn’t a condition on its own. It’s actually a symptom of a larger problem: usually hearing loss or circulatory damage. Tinnitus can also be caused by injuries to the ear or ear canal. Before you can treat tinnitus, you have to figure out why someone is experiencing it. Discovering the underlying issue can help you decide on the best solution to the problem.

How is Tinnitus Caused?

There are a number of causes for tinnitus, but the most common is hearing loss. If you are experiencing tinnitus in both ears, and your doctor has determined that it’s subjective tinnitus, then chances are you might be suffering from a form of hearing loss. However, objective cases of tinnitus, the ones that your doctor can physically confirm, are usually caused by circulatory problems.

There are other causes of tinnitus, but these might be rarer. Tumors, earwax blockages, ear injuries, TMJ, and other blood disorders can lead to tinnitus in one or both ears. If you have not sought out a diagnosis for your tinnitus, it is recommended that you seek a doctor as soon as possible. They have the skills and knowledge necessary to officially diagnose you.

Once diagnosed, you can begin seeking solutions for your tinnitus. The treatment for tinnitus varies depending on what is causing it. If you are suffering tinnitus because of a medication or ear injury, your case should clear up in due time. For those who have TMJ-induced tinnitus, their condition might improve once they’ve treated their TMJ disorder.

That begs the question: for those who suffer tinnitus due to hearing loss, what kind of options are available for them? Can their tinnitus be cured?

Is There a Cure for Tinnitus?

Like many other conditions involving hearing loss, there is no surefire “cure” for tinnitus. The word “cure” has connotations that involve it being a one-time solution that completely solves the problem. However, there currently is no technology that can completely reverse hearing loss. The best we can do is prevent further damage, and offer solutions that will lessen the effects of tinnitus.

However, that is not to say that tinnitus cannot be effectively treated. Many people with tinnitus are able to find satisfaction with their treatment plans. This might involve hearing aids, tinnitus maskers, and other devices. These treatments can help improve hearing loss, or mask the sound of the tinnitus so you can focus.

While many people might feel discouraged by the fact that tinnitus has no “cure”, tinnitus is much like diabetes or other chronic conditions. While there is no clear solution, you do have options for treatment. Once you adapt to your life with tinnitus, it will become easier to deal with and ignore. Any treatment at all is better than going untreated.

In fact, going untreated can increase your chances of worsening your tinnitus. If you don’t use proper hearing protection, your hearing loss and tinnitus can get worse over time. It’s important to seek diagnosis early, and begin taking precautions when you’re around loud noises. On top of getting treatment and preventing further damage, early action can also help with tinnitus-related frustrations, depression, and anxiety.

How to Get Rid of Tinnitus?

While there is no sure-fire way to cure tinnitus, there are a number of solutions that might help you overcome your condition. These solutions will make life easier for you, so you can focus on what truly matters in your life. These devices can include hearing aids, white noise makers, and tinnitus maskers.

If you’re suffering from intense hearing loss, hearing aids can help you hear better again, and improve your tinnitus as well. Because you’re able to hear the world around you, your tinnitus will be drowned out. Some hearing aids also come with tinnitus maskers, which will provide noise that masks your tinnitus when you’re not speaking or listening to something. Tinnitus maskers work by providing a low-level, white noise, or other forms of sound that overpower the ringing or roaring in your ears.

Simple white noise makers can also be used while you’re sleeping, studying, or relaxing in your own home. If you think you might benefit from a white noise maker or tinnitus masker, try to drown out your tinnitus with various sounds around your house. For example, put your ear next to a running faucet. If the sound from the water drowns out your tinnitus, a masker or noise maker might be the best thing for you.

However, if your tinnitus stems from hearing loss, hearing aids might be your best option for treatment. They will solve more than your tinnitus, and give you a chance to hear better again. You might not even know what kinds of sounds you’re missing out on.

If you haven’t received a tinnitus diagnosis, or want to explore your options regarding maskers and hearing aids, seek out help. A doctor or audiologist will be able to give you the information and guidance you need to begin improving your life.

5 Common Tinnitus Myths

Neuromonics separates fact from fiction on tinnitus treatments, causes, available help.

BETHLEHEM, Pa., Feb. 19, 2013 – For tens of millions of tinnitus sufferers, daily activity can be a challenge. Finding help can be frustrating. And the confusion surrounding the condition can lead to feelings of anxiety and hopelessness.

Tinnitus is often described as buzzing, ringing, hissing, humming, roaring, or whistling that someone hears in the absence of any external sound. More than 50 million people in the United States alone suffer from the condition, according to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA).

“Some of the myths surrounding tinnitus can hinder sufferers’ attempts to get better,” says Curtis Amann, vice president of marketing and sales for Neuromonics, Inc., which manufactures and distributes the FDA-cleared, patented and clinically proven medical device designed for long-term significant tinnitus relief. “Separating fact from fiction is an important step for any tinnitus sufferer.”

Here, Amann lists five common tinnitus myths, and insight into the real facts behind the myths.

  1. Tinnitus only affects people who’ve gone to lots of concerts and listened to loud music. While it is true that prolonged exposure to loud noises (music or other) can be one cause of tinnitus, the reality is that tinnitus has many causes – and many people develop tinnitus for no clear reason. People of any gender, age, race, background or profession can suffer from the condition. At the same time, research shows that common elements exist in all tinnitus sufferers. The key to success with treatment is choosing one that effectively addresses these commonalities.
  1. Tinnitus will probably just go away on its own. Many people are afraid or embarrassed to mention the sounds to friends, family or associates – let alone seek help. They hope that the ringing will disappear. While tinnitus caused by a medication or other temporary situation may cease if that element is removed, the reality is that tinnitus does not just “go away” for most people. The sooner a sufferer seeks help from a trained audiologist, the better – and sooner – the chances for significant improvement.
  1. Tinnitus is an incurable disease. Tinnitus is not a disease, but a condition that can result from a wide range of causes that include everything from exposure to loud noises and certain medication use to underlying neurological damage. While tinnitus itself is not a disease, untreated, it can cause fatigue, depression, anxiety, and problems with memory and concentration. The good news? Tinnitus is one condition that people often can manage with effective treatment.
  1. Tinnitus can be cured by cutting out certain foods or other items from the diet. Over time, different foods and additives have received the blame for tinnitus. Research has proven this to be false. Eating a balanced, healthy diet, and getting plenty of exercise, can play important roles in the management of tinnitus. But they can’t “fix” tinnitus on their own.
  1. There is no real help for tinnitus. This is the greatest myth of all, according to Amann. More research has lead to more and better treatments for tinnitus. Professional audiologists who specialize in tinnitus can help individuals determine whether or not they have tinnitus, and if the tinnitus is mild, moderate or severe. They can then advise on the best treatments. Some now-available treatments are customized to each patient’s unique hearing profile, and target the underlying auditory, attentional and emotional processes underlying the tinnitus.

Treatments such as Neuromonic’s, working with the company’s Oasis device, have been able to help more than 90 percent of patients achieve significant reduction in their tinnitus in just a few months. “The success Neuromonics alone is seeing confirms that effective treatment can give new life to tinnitus sufferers,” says Amann. “Never before has it been so important to debunk common myths, and separate fact from fiction in the tinnitus world.”

Neuromonics, Inc. (http://www.neuromonics.com/)

Based in Bethlehem, Pa., Neuromonics, Inc., manufactures and distributes the FDA-cleared, patented and clinically proven medical device designed for long-term significant relief of tinnitus. With research and development beginning in the early 1990s, the Neuromonics Tinnitus Treatment has helped thousands of tinnitus sufferers improve their quality of life and overcome the daily life challenges associated with tinnitus. The treatment has been featured on national news media including “The Doctors” and CNN. For more information, you may also visit the Neuromonics Expo Page on AudiologyOnline.

Will The Ringing in my Ears Disappear?

You may have a common reaction when you first notice that ringing in your ears: pretend everything’s fine. You go through your day the same way you always do: you have a conversation with family, go shopping, and make lunch. While at the same time you try your hardest to ignore that ringing. Because there is one thing you feel sure about: your tinnitus will fade away on its own.

After several more days of unremitting buzzing and ringing, however, you start to have doubts.

You’re not the only person to ever be in this position. Tinnitus can be a challenging little condition, at times it will recede on its own and in some cases, it will stay for a longer period of time.

When Tinnitus is Likely to Vanish on Its Own

Tinnitus is very common around the world, almost everybody’s had a bout here and there. Tinnitus is a non-permanent condition, in most cases, and will ultimately subside on its own. A rock concert is an excellent illustration: you go see Bruce Springsteen at your local stadium (it’s a good show) and when you go home, you notice that there is ringing in your ears.

The kind of tinnitus that is associated with temporary damage from loud noise will usually subside within a couple of days (but you accept that it’s just part of going to a loud performance).

After a while hearing loss can go from temporary or “acute” to permanent or “chronic” because of this exact type of injury. Too many of those kinds of concerts and you might wind up with permanent tinnitus.

sometimes, Tinnitus Doesn’t Just go Away

If your tinnitus lingers for over three months it’s then labeled as chronic tinnitus (but you should get it examined by an expert long before that).

Around 5-15% of individuals globally have documented symptoms of chronic tinnitus. The precise causes of tinnitus are still not very well understood though there are some known associations (like loss of hearing).

When the triggers of your tinnitus aren’t obvious, it often means that a fast “cure” will be unidentifiable. If your ears have been buzzing for more than three months and there’s no discernible cause, there’s a good chance that the sound will not recede on its own. But if this is your circumstance, you can maintain your quality of life and control your symptoms with some treatment possibilities (such as noise canceling devices and cognitive behavioral therapy).

It’s Relevant to Know What The Cause of Your Tinnitus is

It becomes much simpler to decrease the symptoms of tinnitus when you can recognize the fundamental causes. For instance, if your tinnitus is produced by a stubborn, bacterial ear infection, treatment with an antibiotic will usually solve both problems, resulting in a healthy ear and clear hearing.

Here are some possible causes of acute tinnitus:

  • Damage to the eardrum (such as a perforated eardrum)
  • A blockage in the ear or ear canal
  • Meniere’s disease (this is often associated with chronic tinnitus, as Meniere’s has no cure)
  • Hearing loss (again, this is often associated with chronic tinnitus)
  • Chronic ear infections

The Big Question…Will my Tinnitus Ever go Away?

In general, your tinnitus will go away by itself. But the longer it hangs around, the longer you hear tinnitus noises, the more likely it becomes that you’re coping with chronic tinnitus.

You feel that if you just ignore it should go away by itself. But eventually, your tinnitus may become uncomfortable and it might become hard to concentrate on anything else. And in those cases, you may want a treatment plan more comprehensive than crossing your fingers.

In most cases, though, as a matter of fact, throughout most of your life, your tinnitus will usually go away by itself, a typical response to a noisy environment (and your body’s means of telling you to stay away from that environment from now on). Whether that’s acute or chronic tinnitus, well, only time will tell.

When Will The Ringing in My Ear Disappear?

You might have a common reaction when you first notice that ringing in your ears: pretend everything’s ok. You go through your day the same as usual: you have a chat with friends, go shopping, and prepare lunch. While at the same time you try your hardest to ignore that ringing. Because there is one thing you feel certain of: your tinnitus will fade away by itself.

You start to worry, though, when after a few days the ringing and buzzing is unrelenting.

This situation happens to others as well. Tinnitus can be a tricky little condition, sometimes it will disappear by itself and sometimes, it will stay for a long time to come.

The Condition of Temporary Tinnitus

Around the globe, almost everyone has had a bout of tinnitus because it’s quite common. Tinnitus is a non-permanent condition, in most circumstances, and will ultimately vanish by itself. A rock concert is an excellent example: you go see Bruce Springsteen at your local stadium (it’s a good show) and when you get home, you realize that there is ringing in your ears.

Within a couple of days the kind of tinnitus connected to damage from loud noise will commonly fade away (and you chalk it up to the cost of seeing your favorite band play live).

Of course, it’s exactly this kind of noise injury that, over time, can cause hearing loss to move from temporary (or acute, as they say) to chronic. One concert too many and you may be waiting quite a while for your tinnitus to recede on its own.

sometimes, Tinnitus Doesn’t Just Disappear

If your tinnitus doesn’t diminish (with help or on its own) within the span of three months or so, the ailment is then classified chronic tinnitus (this does not, by the way, suggest that you should wait three months to talk to an expert about lingering ringing, buzzing, or thumping in your ears).

Around 5-15% of individuals globally have reported symptoms of chronic tinnitus. While there are some recognized close connections (such as loss of hearing, for example), the causes of tinnitus aren’t yet very well understood.

When the triggers of your tinnitus aren’t clear, it usually means that a fast “cure” will be evasive. There is a good possibility that your tinnitus won’t go away on its own if you have been hearing the ringing for more than three months. In those cases, there are treatment possibilities available (such as cognitive behavioral therapy or noise-canceling devices) that can help you control symptoms and protect your quality of life.

The Cause of Your Tinnitus is Significant

When you can establish the fundamental cause of your tinnitus, mitigating the condition suddenly becomes much simpler. For instance, if your tinnitus is created by a persistent, bacterial ear infection, treatment with an antibiotic will usually solve both issues, leading to a healthy ear and crystal-clear hearing.

Some causes of acute tinnitus could include:

  • Chronic ear infections
  • Damage to the eardrum (such as a perforated eardrum)
  • Hearing loss (again, this is often associated with chronic tinnitus)
  • Meniere’s disease (this is often associated with chronic tinnitus, as Meniere’s has no cure)
  • A blockage in the ear or ear canal

So…Will The Ringing in My Ears Go Away?

In general, your tinnitus will recede on its own. But it becomes significantly more likely that you’re experiencing chronic tinnitus the longer these noises linger.

You believe that if you just forget it should vanish on its own. But there could come a point where your tinnitus starts to become distressing, where it’s tough to focus because the sound is too distracting. In those situations, wishful thinking may not be the extensive treatment plan you require.

Most of the time tinnitus is simply the body’s answer to loud noise that could be damaging over time and will recede by itself. Whether that’s chronic or acute tinnitus, well, we’ll only know over time.

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