You have a ringing in your ears and it’s not improving, if anything it’s getting worse. It started off quietly enough, one of those “is it really there” sort of things. But you’ve noticed how loud and persistent the tinnitus noises have become after an entire day on the job at a construction site. These noises can take many forms, such as ringing, buzzing, or any number of noises. You’re thinking about coming in to see us, but you’re wondering: how is ringing in the ears managed?
The management of tinnitus (that’s what that ringing is called) will vary from person to person and depend substantially on the origin of your hearing problems. But your own tinnitus therapy will share some common threads with others that can help you get prepared.
What kind of tinnitus are you experiencing?
Tinnitus is incredibly common. There can be a number of causes for the ringing (or whatever tinnitus noises you’re hearing). So in terms of treatment, tinnitus is usually divided into one of two categories:
- Medical Tinnitus: Some tinnitus symptoms are caused by an underlying medical problem, like an ear infection, excessive earwax, or a growth, among other conditions. Managing the root medical issue will usually be the priority of your medical professional.
- Non-Medical Tinnitus: Tinnitus that is caused by hearing damage or hearing loss is typically known as “non-medical” tinnitus. Significant, constant, and chronic tinnitus can be the outcome of hearing damage related to long term exposure to loud noise (like at your construction site). It’s normally very difficult to manage non-medical tinnitus.
The kind of tinnitus you have, and the root cause of the hearing affliction, will establish the best ways to manage those symptoms.
Treatments for medical tinnitus
If your tinnitus is caused by an underlying medical condition, it’s likely that treating your initial illness or disorder will relieve the ringing in your ears. Here are a few treatments for medical tinnitus:
- Hydrocortisone: Some types of infections will not respond to antibiotics. For example, antibiotics never work on viral infections. In these situations, your doctor might prescribe hydrocortisone to help you manage other symptoms.
- Antibiotics: If your tinnitus is caused by an ear infection (that is, a bacterial ear infection), your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Once the infection goes away, it’s likely that your hearing will go back to normal.
- Surgery: Doctors might decide to do surgery to remove any tumor or growth that might be causing your tinnitus symptoms.
If your tinnitus is related to a medical problem, you’ll want to see us to get individualized treatment options.
Non-medical tinnitus treatments
The causes of non-medical tinnitus are frequently much harder to diagnose and manage than is typically the case with medical tinnitus. Non-medical tinnitus has no cure especially if it’s caused by hearing loss. Treatments, instead focus on alleviating symptoms and improving the quality of life.
- Medications: Tinnitus is in some cases treated with experimental medication. As an example, tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be reduced by mixtures of anti-anxiety medication and steroids. But before you make any decisions, you’ll want to talk to us.
- Noise-masking devices: These devices hide your tinnitus sounds by creating enough white noise to allow the buzzing or ringing to fade into the background. These devices can be attenuated to generate specific sounds created to offset your tinnitus symptoms.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: You can get training that will help you learn to ignore your tinnitus sounds. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a widely utilized method designed to help you achieve just that.
- Hearing aids: If your tinnitus turns out to be more prominent as your hearing diminishes, a hearing aid could help you manage the symptoms of both conditions. The tinnitus symptoms probably seem louder because everything else becomes quieter (because of hearing impairment). A hearing aid can help hide the sound of your tinnitus by raising the volume of everything else.
Find what works
For most of us, it won’t be immediately clear what’s triggering our tinnitus, so it’s likely you’ll need to try several strategies in order to successfully treat your own hearing issues. In most situations, tinnitus can’t be cured. But there are various treatments available. Finding the right one for you is the trick.