Tinnitus is the term used to describe the condition of having ringing, buzzing, or noise in the ear or originating from the head. The word tinnitus is Latin and means ringing.
Treating the Cause
Tinnitus can be caused by many things, and is usually a symptom of an underlying condition. The treatment for your particular tinnitus will depend on the condition that is causing it, the severity, any accompanying issues such as hearing loss, and the impact the tinnitus has on daily activities.
Common causes of tinnitus include:
- Stress and depression
- Hearing loss
- Exposure to loud noises
- Earwax buildup or blockages
- Abnormal bone growth in the ear
- Meniere’s disease
- Head or neck injuries
- Benign tumor of the cranial nerve
- Certain medications
In order to find out the root cause of your tinnitus, your physician or audiologist will conduct a complete medical history, as well as a complete examination.
What Treatments are Available?
Depending on the cause of your tinnitus and other factors, several treatments are available, including medical options as well as alternative therapies.
A common treatment is acoustic therapy or sound therapy. Sound therapy makes use of sounds to help the brain re-focus and diminish the emotional impact of the tinnitus.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
One treatment that incorporates sound therapy is called Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), also known as habituation therapy. This therapy attempts to retrain your brain into perceiving the tinnitus in a different way.
About 75% of people with tinnitus are not bothered by it, because their brain processes it and files it as another everyday noise. TRT tries to teach your brain how to process the noise, so that it doesn’t bother you anymore (or not as much). Think of it like this, you have a lit candle (tinnitus) in a completely dark room. The lit candle is the focal point of the dark room, but if you lit 100 candles, that one would no longer be the focal point. That is the idea of TRT, to keep the tinnitus from being the focal point for the patient’s brain.
Should you reach a point where you no longer feel you can cope with your tinnitus, your physician or audiologist will also be able to refer you for psychological treatment or support, as tinnitus can be life-changing and hard to deal with, especially when it is a chronic problem. A tinnitus support group may also provide some assistance in coping with tinnitus.
After treatment has taken place, further maintenance is important. This may include management of associated health problems or ongoing therapies to support health and manage tinnitus.