You have a ringing in your ears and it’s not getting any better, if anything it’s getting worse. It began quietly enough, one of those “is it really there” sort of situations. But you’ve noticed how loud and constant the tinnitus noises have become after a full day on the job at a construction site. These noises can take many forms, like ringing, buzzing, or any number of noises. You’re considering coming in to see us, but you’re wondering: how is buzzing in the ears managed?
The treatment of tinnitus (that’s what that buzzing is called) will differ from person to person and depend considerably on the origin of your hearing issues. But there are some common threads that can help you prepare for your own tinnitus therapy.
What kind of tinnitus do you have?
Tinnitus is very common. There can be a number of causes for the ringing (or whatever tinnitus sounds you’re hearing). So in terms of treatment, tinnitus is usually split into one of two categories:
- Medical Tinnitus: Underlying medical issues, including ear infections, excessive earwax, a growth, or other medical issues, can be the cause of tinnitus. Medical professionals will typically attempt to treat the underlying issue as their first priority.
- Non-Medical Tinnitus: “Non-medical” nomenclature is generally reserved for tinnitus caused by damaged hearing or hearing impairment. Significant, persistent, and chronic tinnitus can be the outcome of hearing damage related to long term exposure to loud noise (like at your construction site). Non-medical tinnitus is often more difficult to treat.
The type of tinnitus you have, and the root cause of the hearing condition, will determine the best ways to manage those symptoms.
Treatments for medical tinnitus
If your tinnitus is caused by an underlying medical condition, it’s likely that managing your initial illness or ailment will relieve the ringing in your ears. Treatments for medical tinnitus could include:
- Hydrocortisone: Certain kinds of infections will not respond to antibiotics. Viral infections, for example, never respond to antibiotic treatments. In these situations, your doctor may prescribe hydrocortisone to help you manage other symptoms.
- Surgery: Doctors may decide to do surgery to remove any tumor or growth that might be causing your tinnitus symptoms.
- Antibiotics: If your tinnitus is a result of an ear infection (that is, a bacterial ear infection), your doctor might prescribe antibiotics. Once the infection goes away, it’s likely that your hearing will go back to normal.
You’ll want to schedule an appointment to come see us so we personalize a tinnitus treatment plan, especially if you’re dealing with medical tinnitus.
Non-medical tinnitus treatment options
The causes of non-medical tinnitus are often much more difficult to identify and treat than is typically the case with medical tinnitus. Non-medical tinnitus has no cure especially if it’s related to hearing impairment. Instead, treatment to improve quality of life by alleviating symptoms is the normal strategy.
- Medications: Tinnitus is in some cases treated with experimental medication. As an example, tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be decreased by combinations of anti-anxiety medication and steroids. However, you’ll want to speak with us before making any decisions about medications.
- Noise-masking devices: These devices mask your tinnitus noises by creating enough white noise to allow the buzzing or ringing to fade into the background. These devices can be attenuated to produce specific sounds designed to balance out your tinnitus symptoms.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: You can obtain training that will help you learn to ignore your tinnitus sounds. This widely utilized method has helped many people do just that.
- Hearing aids: If your tinnitus becomes more dominant as your hearing wanes, a hearing aid could help you control the symptoms of both conditions. When you have hearing impairment everything outside gets quieter and that can make your tinnitus sounds seem louder. A hearing aid can help mask the sound of your tinnitus by amping up the volume of everything else.
Find what works
For most of us, it won’t be immediately clear what’s causing our tinnitus, so it’s likely you’ll need to try several approaches in order to successfully treat your own hearing issues. In most situations, tinnitus can’t be cured. But there are numerous treatments available. The trick is discovering the one that works for you.