Treatment Options for Tinnitus

In Blog, Expert Information, Informative by Christa N. Smith, Au.D., CCC-A

Christa N. Smith, Au.D., CCC-A

Do you suffer from tinnitus? You are not alone. In fact, it is estimated that 50 million Americans experience some form of tinnitus. Roughly 20 million of those experience chronic tinnitus, and two million of those cases are extreme.

At its least, tinnitus is annoying. At its most severe, tinnitus is debilitating. There is currently no proven cure for most cases of tinnitus, however a variety of treatment options for tinnitus exist. We’ve compiled a list of the most common treatments here.

General Wellness

Many patients notice that their general wellness can have an impact on the intensity of their tinnitus symptoms. Changes in diet, exercise, sleep patterns, and socialization have all been reported to change the intensity of tinnitus symptoms. In general, anything that lowers stress is considered to help relieve tinnitus.

Hearing Aids

In many cases, tinnitus is developed as a result of hearing loss. Augmenting the reception and perception of sounds through the use of a hearing aid can provide relief from the internal sounds of tinnitus.

Sound Therapies

In general, sound therapy refers to the use of external noise to alter a patient’s perception of, or reaction to, tinnitus. Like other treatments, sound therapies do not cure the symptoms of tinnitus, but they may significantly lower the perceived burden and intensity of tinnitus. Sound-masking devices, hearing aids, sound and sleep apps, and notched-music devices may all be used to reduce the intensity of tinnitus.

Behavior Therapies

Tinnitus can generate strong negative emotions such as frustration, anger, and anxiety. Through behavioral therapy techniques such as Tinnitus Activities Treatment, Progressive Tinnitus Management, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, patients can learn to reclassify the negative emotions related to tinnitus. In doing so, patients put themselves in a better position to manage their condition.

Drug Therapies

While there are currently no FDA-approved drugs specifically for tinnitus, some patients have reported relief of symptoms with the use of other pharmacological options. Medications that address stress, anxiety, and depression can sometimes exacerbate tinnitus. It is important to remember that not all drugs are effective or appropriate for all patients. Moreover, the introduction of any drug can result in undesired side effects or counteract existing prescription drug treatments.

TMJ Treatments

The vast majority of tinnitus cases are caused by hearing loss, but in less-frequent cases, tinnitus can be caused by physiological functions or disorders within the body. TMJ disorders, head and neck injuries, obstructions in the ear, and ototoxic reactions can all cause tinnitus symptoms. In these cases, treating the underlying cause would exacerbate tinnitus symptoms.

Which tinnitus treatment is right for me?

Remember that these currently available treatments are not “cures” as they neither repair the underlying causes of tinnitus, nor eliminate the tinnitus signal in the brain. However, they address the attentional, emotional, and cognitive impact of tinnitus to help patients regain control of their hearing, even if the perception of tinnitus remains.

While only you can decide which of the treatment options for tinnitus is right for you, talk to your audiologist about what he or she recommends. Getting treatment can help you lead a more fulfilling and productive life, despite tinnitus.