Tinnitus is a condition that causes the person to hear sounds that have no external cause. If you have tinnitus, you might hear ringing, whistling, whooshing, crackling, popping or various other sounds. While the exact cause of tinnitus isn’t known, it’s possible that it occurs when your brain is trying to process sound that it’s not receiving. That’s why tinnitus is often linked with hearing loss, although not everyone with tinnitus also has hearing loss. Tinnitus may also be linked to Meniere’s disease, diabetes, thyroid disorders, some medications and even anxiety and depression.
Treating underlying causes
The first thing to check when you are experiencing tinnitus symptoms is whether there might be an underlying cause. Sometimes there could be a short-term problem that is easily treated, such as an ear infection or a buildup of earwax. If you take any medications, some of them can have the side-effect of causing tinnitus. Switching to a different medication might help. Other underlying causes of tinnitus might require more long-term treatment, such as diabetes, thyroid problems or Meniere’s disease, which is a disorder of the inner ear.
Hearing tests and hearing aids
While not everyone who experiences tinnitus also has hearing loss, the two conditions are often linked together. Having a hearing test carried out is a good idea if you have tinnitus, as it might identify hearing loss that can be treated. A hearing test has several parts to it, which will test how well you can hear tones at different volumes and frequencies, the mechanical workings of your ears and how well you can hear speech.
If your hearing test reveals hearing loss, you might benefit from wearing hearing aids. By treating the hearing loss, it can both allow you to hear better and treat your tinnitus. You can also wear hearing aids that have sound generators, which are used to play sounds that help to distract you and cover the sound of your tinnitus.
White noise machines and sound generators
Tinnitus can feel worse if you’re concentrating on it or finding it hard to ignore. One of the solutions to this is to use a white noise machine or sound generator. It can serve as a distraction, giving you something to concentrate on so you’re not just hearing the sounds of the tinnitus. It can also help to cover up the sound with background noise, which is great for helping you to fall asleep. Wearable sound masking devices can also be useful during the day. Sounds such as white noise or pink noise are usually most effective, compared to nature sounds, which tend to be less effective.
Tinnitus can be made worse by stress and anxiety. If you are able to reduce the amount of stress that you feel, you might find that it also helps with your tinnitus. There are lots of ways to reduce stress, but many people find that mindfulness or meditation can be helpful. Exercise is another good way of reducing stress and improving your overall wellbeing.
In addition to general stress reduction, there are other ways to address your mental health and improve your tinnitus. One option is to have cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is also used to treat mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. CBT aims to help you deal with tinnitus, using talk therapy to teach you how to accept it. It gives you tools to change negative thought patterns so that tinnitus doesn’t cause you stress, which can make it worse. CBT works well for a lot of people, although not everyone will find that it helps them with their tinnitus.
Some medications can be useful for treating tinnitus. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety have been tested for people who have tinnitus and have been found to be somewhat effective. Several antidepressants are commonly used to treat tinnitus and Xanax has also been used to treat tinnitus.
Contact us at Louisiana Ear Nose Throat & Sinus if you want to know more about tinnitus and how it is diagnosed and treated. Call one of our locations today at:
- Baton Rouge LA (Bluebonnet Blvd): (225) 888-8630
- Baton Rouge LA (Dijon Drive): (225) 769-1090
- Denham Springs LA: (225) 243-4211
- Zachary LA: (225) 658-4334
- St. Francisville LA: (225) 769-1090