Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) affects around 18% of Australians and can negatively impact people’s quality of life. It is important to know that you don’t need to keep suffering with tinnitus- there are many ways to manage your symptoms and continue living a happy and healthy life.
Are there any cures for tinnitus?
There is currently no easy fix or cure for tinnitus. However, it can be well managed and people can become habituated or used to the symptoms of tinnitus, and live comfortably with this condition.
Many people become frustrated with trying to find a cure for their tinnitus, but this will only make the condition worse. The best thing you can do it accept tinnitus as a part of your life- the more you relax about it the easier it will become to manage.
Treatment for ringing in the ears
Identify and treat any underlying cause
In some cases, tinnitus is caused by an underlying medical condition. See a medical professional to investigate any factors that you may be able to treat that will decrease the ringing in your ears including ear infection, impacted wax, tumours, circulation issues, Meniere’s disease and medications that cause tinnitus as a side effect.
Many people with tinnitus experience some degree of hearing loss; therefore it is important to have your hearing assessed. Having a good quality hearing aid fitted can help to reduce the strain of listening for these people. In many cases improvement in hearing can lead to a decreased perception of ringing in the ears.
Counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy:
Talking about your experience with tinnitus and strategies to cope with it better can be extremely therapeutic. Cognitive behavioural therapy can help to change the way you think about tinnitus and help you to move your focus away from it.
Tinnitus maskers are designed to cover up or distract from the sound of ringing in the ears. They come in several forms including devices that look like hearing aids, speakers you can put in your room or can be as simple as a water fountain or low volume radio. Some people find maskers very effective while they are not helpful to others- your audiologist or health professional may be able to guide you as to whether this is appropriate for your tinnitus, or give it a go yourself.
Other tips to help reduce tinnitus
Protection from noise
Tinnitus is often caused by damage due to exposure to very loud noise, and more exposure can lead to further damage and hearing loss. Try to avoid loud noise as much as possible, and if you know that you will be exposed to loud music such as at a music concert or near a construction site, keep earplugs or earmuffs with you so that you can protect your ears.
Stress appears to aggravate tinnitus symptoms, and there can be a viscous cycle of stress as for many people experiencing tinnitus is stressful in itself. Managing stress can be extremely beneficial to reduce ringing in your ears. Try to take time out for yourself and participate in activities that you find relaxing such as exercise, socialising, being creative, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, reading a book or listening to soft music.
Some people find that certain foods trigger their tinnitus symptoms; common offenders include alcohol, coffee, chocolate, quinine (found in tonic water) and soft drinks. If you find that any particular foods make the ringing in your ears worse, try avoiding or reducing them as much as possible.
There are also some nutritional deficiencies that can make tinnitus worse such as vitamin B12. You may like to see a naturopath or nutritional medicine practitioner to discuss whether nutritional treatment could benefit you.