Tinnitus is an issue within the ear, wherein a patient hears abnormal noises, often described as a ringing in the ears. Tinnitus sufferers may also experience other noises, such as buzzing, whistling and hissing. Like most health issues, patients may experience tinnitus to different degrees – for some, it may be constant, whereas for others, it may be intermittent. But what causes it and how is tinnitus treated?
What causes tinnitus?
There are a number of things that can cause tinnitus. It can appear suddenly, or may come on slowly, getting worse as time develops. Whilst the causes of tinnitus aren’t always clear, there are several things that are known to cause tinnitus. These include damage to the ears, age related hearing loss, ear infections, an ear wax build-up and being exposed to loud noises/listening to loud music frequently.
There are also some disorders which can lead to tinnitus, such as the inherited condition otosclerosis, and Meniere’s disease. However, tinnitus can occur without any of these issues, and many people will experience it temporarily at some point in their lives – for example, if the patient attends a loud music concert.
How is tinnitus treated?
At the time of writing, there is no set cure for tinnitus, although research into the disease is currently active, so this may change in the future. When there is an underlying cause to the patient’s tinnitus, attempts can be made to treat it, depending on the thing that is causing the issue. A build-up of ear wax can easily be treated at most surgeries – prescription medication may be given, as well as ear drops.
If this doesn’t work, the ears can be cleaned out professionally – this is something that shouldn’t be attempted by the patient themselves, in case they cause more damage to the ears. Tinnitus caused by hearing loss can be managed with hearing aids. Ear infections causing tinnitus can be treated medically, and tinnitus caused by over-exposure to loud noises/music may be lessened by the patient wearing ear plugs or attempting to avoid loud noises in the future (although the tinnitus may not go away completely in these situations).
Is it possible to manage tinnitus?
For other causes of tinnitus (or if a specific cause can’t be found), other treatments are available, usually focusing on managing the condition, rather than eliminating it completely. Patients may be offered counseling in order to be able to manage the condition and cope with it more effectively – cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be used to help patients to think about their tinnitus differently, in order to make it less noticeable.
Something called sound therapy may also be used. This is a treatment where the patient is asked to listen to a selection of neutral sounds to distract them from the noise their tinnitus creates. Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) is another option that may be offered, aiming to retrain the way the brain responds to the noises caused by tinnitus, so the patient is able to tune it out and ignore their tinnitus.
Want to know more about how is tinnitus treated?
If you’re experiencing symptoms of tinnitus, contact Almond Hearing for a professional tinnitus assessment in Scotland today. Almond Hearing provides expert advice and exceptional customer service for all your hearing needs.