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Can Tinnitus be Treated?
Tinnitus is often characterized as ringing in the ears, which sounds relatively manageable; inconvenient, but manageable. However, the reality of tinnitus is usually far more challenging than many people expect: people with tinnitus are more likely to experience mental health issues, insomnia, fatigue, and more besides. As a result, those who have received a diagnosis of tinnitus are naturally keen to find a way to manage the condition – but is this actually possible? Here’s what you need to know.
Ascertaining the cause of someone’s tinnitus
While tinnitus can occur idiopathically, in some cases it is more a symptom than a condition in and of itself. Due to this, anyone who develops tinnitus should seek further medical advice from their primary physician and from an audiologist, who can administer a hearing test. These medical checks can help to ascertain if there is an underlying condition that is causing the tinnitus. If there is an underlying condition, then the hope would be that treating this primary condition would also resolve the secondary tinnitus. For example, high blood pressure can cause tinnitus; if the high blood pressure is successfully treated, then the tinnitus should eventually subside also. However, sometimes, the underlying condition is resolved, but the tinnitus continues to occur; or tinnitus is the primary, rather than a secondary, issue. In these cases, treatment options that focus solely on tinnitus should be explored.
The most common treatment options for tinnitus
By far the most used – and most successful – treatment for tinnitus is masking devices. These devices are worn in the ears and are equipped with technology that distracts the brain from the sounds produced by tinnitus. Furthermore, if you have been diagnosed with hearing loss, you can combine amplification and tinnitus masking in a single device. Masking devices tend to be very effective, so it is definitely worth discussing this with your audiologist if you suspect this treatment may be suitable for you.
Other types of tinnitus treatment
Outside of hearing aids equipped with masking technology, tinnitus treatments are rather thin on the ground. Here are a few of the options available:
- Some prescribed medications – and particularly tricyclic antidepressants – can reduce the severity of tinnitus. However, these medications tend to be used in concert with – rather than as a replacement for – masking devices and hearing aids.
- Ear wax removal can also be beneficial for tinnitus; though not a guarantee, it is worth considering if you experience chronic issues with tinnitus.
- Tinnitus retraining is a fairly rare treatment for tinnitus, but it can be effective. The goal of retraining is – via the use of devices and talking therapies – to retrain the brain to the point where it just does not notice the tinnitus sounds. While this treatment can be effective, it is unfortunately time-consuming; most tinnitus retraining can take six to 18 months.
Tinnitus is an incredibly challenging condition that can impact quality of life in a number of ways. However, the condition can be treated and by exploring the options detailed above, you should be well on your way to finding a treatment that works for you.