Have you ever heard ringing in your ears after attending a loud concert or fireworks display?
If so, you’ve experienced a temporary form of chronic tinnitus that affects as many as 60 million Americans. Now, scientists may have accidentally discovered new interventions that could help.
While studying deep brain stimulation, researchers at the University of Minnesota found that a combination of electric currents and sound also affected tinnitus. In fact, 86% of their subjects reported that their symptoms disappeared or decreased, and those results lasted for more than a year.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 may be causing a rise in tinnitus and other hearing loss issues. Webchats associated with tinnitus rose 256% between May and December 2020, according to the British Tinnitus Association. Some experts estimate that almost 15% of COVID-19 patients develop tinnitus.
While research continues, you already have many options that can help you cope. Find out more about medical treatments and self-help strategies for tinnitus.
Medical Care for Tinnitus
Tinnitus sometimes clears up on its own. However, prompt care could save your hearing if the causes are reversible. It can also help rule out rare cases of underlying heart conditions or tumors.
Try these tips:
- Get tested. Individual cases of tinnitus vary widely in severity and origin. Most commonly, it involves damage to the delicate hairs in your inner ear. When you’re unable to hear external sounds, your brain often makes its own, like ringing or humming.
- See a specialist. Treatment often involves an interdisciplinary team. For example, your doctor may refer you to a neurologist or an orthopedist.
- Wear a hearing aid. Your inner sounds may cease or become less noticeable when you can hear what’s going on around you. Hearing aids can also strengthen mental health and make it easier to socialize.
- Adjust your medication. A wide variety of drugs can interfere with hearing. That includes aspirin, as well as certain antibiotics and antidepressants.
- Remove wax. Impacted wax can also be a factor. Ear drops or warm water may soften wax build up, or you may need a professional cleaning.
- Consider talk therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy and similar treatments may help if hearing issues are disrupting your life. You’ll learn techniques that will help you to relax and change your thinking.
Home Treatments for Tinnitus
Even when tinnitus is due to age or other unavoidable causes, you can make it easier to live with.
Experiment with these steps for finding relief:
- Use masking devices. There are specialized gadgets you can wear to cover up the ringing in your ears. To save money, you may want to try an ordinary fan or pink noise machine first to see if that’s adequate for you.
- Retrain your brain. Browse online for Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) services in your area. Sessions may last a year or more, but they can be highly effective, and you’ll learn remedies you can use at home.
- Avoid stimulants. Substances like caffeine and nicotine may aggravate your symptoms. Pick a date to quit smoking and try limiting yourself to one cup of coffee a day.
- Rest up. The noises in your head may seem louder at night when the rest of your house is quiet. Take extra care to get the sleep you need. Go to bed earlier and keep your bedroom dark and cool.
- Cover your ears. Take precautions that will prevent further damage to your ears. Steer clear of loud noises or wear ear plugs.
Taking care of your ears protects your overall health and the quality of your life. Talk with your doctor if you notice possible symptoms of tinnitus or any sudden changes in your hearing.