How is Tinnitus Treated?

Woman with Hand to Ear

Tinnitus is a condition that can affect anyone, at any time. For those that experience tinnitus, finding a suitable treatment method is essential - but unfortunately, often easier said than done.

Below, we’re going to look into what tinnitus is, why it is so concerning, and the currently available treatment options for those who experience the condition.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a disorder that can be summarized simply as “hearing sounds that aren’t actually there.” People with tinnitus hear noises, but these noises do not actually exist in the physical world - to borrow a popular phrase, the call is coming from inside the house.

Superficially, this does not sound particularly concerning - a little disconcerting, perhaps, but not a severe problem. However, tinnitus is actually extremely damaging to those who experience it; the constant lack of quiet is extremely stressful and can lead to mental health issues, sleep disturbances, and a general sense of unease.

What noises do people hear with tinnitus?

The noises vary from person to person. Some will hear their heartbeat, which is known as pulsatile tinnitus; others will hear a variety of sounds, such as popping, cracking, whistling or ringing.

How is tinnitus diagnosed?

Tinnitus is primarily reported to a hearing care professional, and diagnosis is made following examination and listening to the patient describe the condition. If tinnitus appears suddenly, then imagining - such as MRI - may be performed, but this is usually to rule out underlying potential serious causes rather than obtain a diagnosis of tinnitus.

Is tinnitus serious?

Not usually, no. The vast majority of people with tinnitus will find that there is no particular cause; the condition is primarily idiopathic. However, tinnitus can be a symptom of other, potentially dangerous, illnesses, and a good hearing care professional will seek to rule these out during diagnosis.

How is tinnitus treated?

Treating tinnitus is incredibly difficult, as the condition is often variable both between people and even for an individual patient. However, a number of options are available to those who receive a tinnitus diagnosis, including:

  • Noise masking, usually via hearing aids, is a common treatment for tinnitus. These devices help to disguise the noise so it is less noticeable to the person with tinnitus. While they do not actually remove the noises that the tinnitus is creating, they do mask it, which makes the condition far easier to live with.
  • Many people with tinnitus also use white noise machines to provide background noise to help mask the tinnitus. These machines are particularly useful at night, be worn.
  • Some medications can help with tinnitus, but this is something you would need to discuss with a doctor rather than your hearing care provider.

What should I do if I believe I have tinnitus?

Talk to a doctor or hearing care provider as soon as possible for further guidance. Tinnitus can be genuinely lifestyle-damaging, so seeking a solution as quickly as possible - as well as ruling out any nefarious underlying causes - is always the best way forward. Good luck.

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