WHAT IS TINNITUS?
Tinnitus stands for the perception of sound (ringing or noise), which has no external stimulus. Approximately one-third of people experience tinnitus sometime in their lives.
The severity of sound ranges from nearly undetectable to severe and debilitating. Though there is no cure for chronic tinnitus, there are various modalities of management that significantly improve the quality of patients’ life.
Tinnitus is a very common problem; extremely annoying and may be perceived in one or both ears and/or in the head. The attack leads to irritability, lack of sleep, poor concentration, and depression.
Is There A Cure For Tinnitus?
The etiology of this common symptom is poorly understood, and as there is no direct tinnitus cure, people suffering from chronic tinnitus can try out the various tinnitus therapy techniques to reduce the effects of tinnitus and can get relief. These techniques help to reduce the intensity of tinnitus.
What Is The Most Effective Treatment For Tinnitus?
Every person’s body function and physiology are unique; tinnitus therapy suiting one person may not be as effective for another. A particular tinnitus therapy management will work depending on the cause of tinnitus.
It is important to understand that tinnitus is a symptom and not a disease. It can be so disabling that the patient can have suicidal tendencies. A defect or cause elsewhere in our body causes ringing in the ear and other related symptoms.
8 IMPORTANT POINTS TO FIGHT TINNITUS
1) Avoid noise exposure
If you are in a situation or location where loud noise is present, use noise-reducing earplugs. Do not avoid noisy situations totally, as they may increase sensitivity to sound and aggravate your tinnitus.
2) Do Not Isolate Yourself Or Live In Total Silence
Tinnitus is less bothersome when patients are busy with their work. Retired persons should be encouraged to keep themselves busy with enjoyable and rewarding activities and volunteer work.
3) Reduce Salt intake
Salt thickens the blood, which makes it harder to circulate, causing an increase in blood pressure. Reducing salt intake helps in reducing tinnitus.
4) Blood pressure monitoring
Tinnitus is directly related to blood pressure. If you suffer from high blood pressure, take appropriate treatment and keep it under control.
5) Avoid Caffeine, Nicotine, And Alcohol consumption
Caffeine and nicotine act as stimulants which increase the levels of tinnitus in some patients. Alcohol can also trigger tinnitus. Most patients with tinnitus have some degree of hearing loss.
6) Lifestyle changes And Regular Exercise
Physical activity increases the pumping rate of the heart, which enables the heart to pump more blood. The small blood vessels or capillaries leading to our ears and other organs get more blood supply and nourishment, which helps reduce tinnitus.
Though exercise may increase tinnitus problems in patients, it should be done regularly as it helps in stress reduction and improves cardiovascular health, muscle tone, mood, and sleep patterns.
7) Avoid exertion and consume a balanced diet
Many people, when they are tired, have observed an increase in tinnitus. Fatigue is a sign of undernourishment or not consuming a balanced diet. Consult a dietician for a balanced diet that contains the necessary vitamins and minerals.
8) Stress Management
Stress is very common due to work pressures and lifestyle changes. Our body releases certain chemicals in response to stress; continuous secretion of these chemicals is harmful
11 Effective Tinnitus Therapy Methods
The following tinnitus management therapies are very effective.
1.Tinnitus Retraining Therapy(TRT):
It consists of counseling strategies and sound therapy.
Counseling highlights the benign nature and neurophysiology of tinnitus and disengages the tinnitus from emotions. Reassuring patients with the use of a white noise generator. Gradual habituation reduces disabling nature of tinnitus.
TRT is not a cure, but it helps you to cope with the noise in your head.
2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Or CBT For Tinnitus:
It is indicated in severe tinnitus and psychological distress.
It tries to allay distorted beliefs regarding tinnitus. With the help of CBT, the therapist changes the thought processes and perceptions.
The therapist identifies the negative and detrimental thoughts which increase anxiety and depression. And replaces them with more realistic and positive thoughts.
Acoustic therapies or SOUND THERAPY
Acoustic therapies constitute a vital component of an effective management program. This noninvasive therapy provides not only immediate relief but there also occurs tinnitus suppression or temporary disappearance of tinnitus (residual inhibition).
3. Hearing Aids For Tinnitus Masking
This device is generally used by people having both tinnitus and hearing loss.
Approximately 75% of cases suffering from tinnitus also have some hearing loss. Hearing aids with a masking feature is ideal in such situations. Besides providing amplification to compensate for hearing loss, these hearing aids emit white noise.
This noise is adjustable and will match and mask the tinnitus sound. At the same time, the amplification of speech frequencies helps to lower the ringing or reduce tinnitus.
4. Tinnitus Masking Devices Or Tinnitus Maskers
A tinnitus masking device is identical to a hearing aid but does not amplify external sound. It only emits white noise or a tone to mask the tinnitus noise.
This device is generally used by people having tinnitus but no hearing loss.
5. Notch Therapy For Reducing Tinnitus
Notch Therapy is a recent development in tinnitus therapy management. The earlier method was to mask the tinnitus noise. The new method does not mask the tinnitus sound but pushes it into the background.
This action of notching out reduces the activity of the neurons, thereby reducing tinnitus. The center frequency of the patient’s tinnitus noise is identified for Notch therapy to work.
The patient hears various frequency tones and is asked to identify the one which is closest to their tinnitus tone.
Once the center frequency is identified, the hearing device is programmed accordingly. Music, speech, or white noise is presented through the hearing device with the center frequency “notched out” or reduced amplification.
6. Tinnitus Apps
Tinnitus apps are very convenient home treatment options. Free and paid apps are available for download; all you need is a smartphone. Try out the various apps and select the one which gives you maximum relief. You can save more than one app on your smartphone and use them depending on the type and intensity of the tinnitus sound.
7. Physical Therapy For Somatic Tinnitus Treatment
Tinnitus physical therapy is essentially done under the supervision of the chiropractor.
Cervical Movements And Muscle Contractions
This method is very effective in reducing tinnitus in the case of CERVICAL TINNITUS and gives relief. The movement should normalize cervical spine mobility. Stretching the tense muscles of the neck reduces tinnitus.
Patients notice a reduction in the sound and pitch by the movement of the jaw, neck, and eyes. Applying gentle pressure with fingertips on the temples and behind the ear is also an effective therapy.
8. TMS Therapy For Tinnitus
TMS tinnitus therapy or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation induces low-level electric brain currents, which may inhibit the overexcited temporal lobe cortex that could be the source of subjective tinnitus.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is approved by the FDA for depression but not as a tinnitus therapy.
9. Latest Treatment For Tinnitus
Vagus Nerve Stimulation therapy has received approval from the FDA for the treatment of epilepsy, depression, and cluster headaches.
10. Pharmacotherapy For Tinnitus
Medicines such as —–
- Tricyclic Antidepressants,
- Lipo Flavinoids,
- Zinc Therapy,
- Carbamazepine, and
- Clonazepam has been used in the treatment of tinnitus with the variable result.
Note: do not take any drug unless prescribed by your doctor.
11. Alternative Therapies For Tinnitus
Many people use complementary and alternate therapies to get relief. Though none of these therapies have received approval from the drug controller or are medically proven, people claim to have benefitted from them.
- Ginkgo Biloba
- Nutritional Supplements (Vitamin B12, Melatonin, Zinc)
- Biofeedback and Neurofeedback
Tinnitus is a frustrating experience and has a major impact on one’s life. We have not found a cure so far because it’s not simple and is caused by multiple factors. Hopefully, one of the tinnitus therapy techniques described above may bring some relief till we have a cure.
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The Author does not provide any medical advice on this platform.
Viewing, accessing, or reading this blog does not establish any doctor-patient relationship.
The information provided in this blog does not replace the services and opinions of a qualified medical professional who examines you and then prescribes medicines.
And if you have any questions of medical nature, please refer to your doctor or qualified medical personnel for evaluation and management at a clinic/hospital near you.
The content provided in this blog represents the Author’s own interpretation of research articles.