How Do I Relieve and Cope With Tinnitus?

By Melissa Wikoff, AuD

If you are suffering from tinnitus, you may already know that it can be debilitating. Tinnitus is described as a perception of noise or ringing when no such external physical noise is present. In other words, you hear something that isn’t there, a notion that can be disturbing all on its own. Depending on how loud or often that noise is experienced though, it can also lead to fatigue, stress, sleep problems, depression, and other serious issues. The most important thing you can do to start alleviating and coping with tinnitus is to see a doctor, typically an ENT or an audiologist.

Because tinnitus is a symptom and not a condition, it is important for your doctor to determine the underlying cause for your having tinnitus. This will ultimately allow your doctor to choose the appropriate treatment methods for ameliorating the symptoms. In almost all cases the doctor will perform a comprehensive hearing exam. This is the main and most important step in determining what may be contributing to your tinnitus. Once this assessment has taken place, an appropriate treatment plan can then be recommended. The typical treatments include one or many the following techniques for alleviating and coping with tinnitus:

Audiological Solutions

  • Hearing aids – hearing loss is the most common cause of tinnitus. This happens naturally as the brain attempts to replace the frequencies it can no longer hear naturally. Typical treatment is hearing aids. Most sufferers of tinnitus report amelioration and often complete recovery from tinnitus when the brain and ears are being stimulated with actual noise through the hearing aids.
  • Masking devices – these devices are worn on the ear and work by generating low level noise to cover up the tinnitus. Typically an audiologist will work with you to determine the correct pitch and noise level that is needed. These devices can also be combined with hearing aids.
  • Therapy – tinnitus retraining may be employed alone or in conjunction with the other solutions. The therapy combines the use of sound therapy devices and counseling over time to help cope with the effects of tinnitus.
  • Medication – some medications, not limited to, but including anti-depressants, have been shown to alleviate tinnitus.

Lifestyle Solutions

  • Diet changes – dietary changes can be recommended to any tinnitus sufferer. Foods that are high in sodium have been linked to increases in the frequency and strength of tinnitus. It is recommended for tinnitus sufferers to avoid eating foods that are high in sodium.
  • Lifestyle changes – while it is shown that tinnitus can lead to stress, one of the best ways shown to reduce tinnitus is simply to reduce the amount of stress in your life from external factors. Not all stress can be eliminated, but making small changes can improve your tinnitus as well as your overall health.
  • Support groups – Tinnitus is a very common symptom that many people suffer from. For that reason tinnitus support groups are available in or near most big cities. Having a group of people to meet with who are dealing with the same issues is often a big help in coping and generally reducing stress. This is often a good forum as well for people to share ideas for what is helping them to cope.

If you are suffering from tinnitus, there is help out there for you. It is usually just a matter of finding the right doctor. Don’t suffer in silence, get help today!