The ringing in your ear keeps getting worse. It began quietly enough, one of those “is it really there” kind of things. But you’ve noticed how loud and persistent the tinnitus sounds 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 origin of your tinnitus symptoms will substantially establish what approach will be right for you. But there are some common threads that can help you get ready for your own tinnitus therapy.
What type of tinnitus do you have?
Tinnitus is not unusual. The ringing or buzzing (or any number of sounds) in your ear can be caused by a variety of underlying problems. That’s why tinnitus is often divided into two categories in terms of treatment:
- Medical Tinnitus: Some tinnitus symptoms are caused by an underlying medical issue, like an ear infection, excessive earwax, or a growth, among other conditions. Managing the underlying medical issue will normally be the priority of your medical professional.
- Non-Medical Tinnitus: Tinnitus that is triggered by hearing damage or hearing impairment is typically referred to as “non-medical” tinnitus. Over time, exposure to damaging noise (such as the noise at your construction site) can cause persistent, significant, and chronic tinnitus. Non-medical tinnitus is usually more difficult to treat.
The kind of tinnitus you have, and the underlying cause of the hearing condition, will establish the best ways to treat those symptoms.
Treatments for medical tinnitus
Your medical tinnitus symptoms will typically clear up when the underlying medical issue is treated. Treatments for medical tinnitus could include:
- Surgery: When your tinnitus is a result of a tumor or other growth, doctors could perform surgery to remove the mass that’s causing your tinnitus, particularly if your symptoms are diminishing your quality of life.
- Antibiotics: Your doctor may prescribe you with antibiotics if your tinnitus is related to a bacterial ear infection. Once the infection goes away, it’s likely that your hearing will return to normal.
- Hydrocortisone: Some types of infections will not respond to antibiotics. For instance, antibiotics never work on viral infections. Hydrocortisone might be prescribed in these cases to treat other symptoms.
If your tinnitus is caused by a medical problem, you’ll want to see us to receive individualized treatment options.
Non-medical tinnitus treatment options
Usually, medical tinnitus is much easier to diagnose and manage than non-medical tinnitus. Non-medical tinnitus has no cure particularly if it’s related to hearing impairment. Treatments, instead center around alleviating symptoms and improving the quality of life.
- Noise-masking devices: Sometimes referred to as “white noise machines,” these devices are designed to provide enough sound to decrease your ability to hear the ringing or buzzing caused by your tinnitus. These devices can be tuned to generate specific sounds created to balance out your tinnitus symptoms.
- Hearing aids: If your tinnitus becomes more prominent as your hearing diminishes, a hearing aid could help you manage the symptoms of both conditions. The tinnitus symptoms will likely seem louder because everything else becomes quieter (due to hearing loss). When you use a hearing aid it raises the volume of the outside world making your tinnitus noises seem quieter.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: In some cases, you can be trained to ignore the noises of your tinnitus. This widely used method has helped lots of people do just that.
- Medications: Tinnitus is sometimes managed with experimental medication. As an example, tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be decreased by mixtures of anti-anxiety medication and steroids. But before you make any decisions, you’ll want to talk to us.
Find what works
For the majority of us, it won’t be immediately clear what’s triggering our tinnitus, so it’s likely you’ll have to attempt multiple approaches in order to effectively treat your own hearing problems. In most situations, tinnitus can’t be cured. But numerous different treatment options are available that could lessen the symptoms. The trick is identifying the one that works for you.