What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is not a condition in itself, but a symptom of some other condition that causes a high-pitched whine, a ringing, buzzing or clicking in the ears. It can come from any number of problems starting with the eardrum and cochlea – the organs that turn sound waves into electrical signals for the brain to interpret as sound. Causes can range in gravity from a tumor near the ear, nerve damage, repetitive trauma from loud noise or constant air pressure changes, to simple deterioration of the ear organs through aging.
Are there home remedies for tinnitus?
The following home remedies may be of benefit to some individuals with tinnitus.
- Dietary restrictions including avoiding caffeine and decreasing salt intake
- Smoking cessation
- Zinc supplements
- Ginkgo biloba
What is the treatment for tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a common complaint, with up to 15% of Americans having experienced it. It is the most common symptom reported by military service members returning from combat.
- Tinnitus may last for weeks or months and then resolve spontaneously. For some people, tinnitus may last for years.
- The tinnitus may be significant enough to interfere with an individual's activities of daily living. For this reason, treatment must also be directed at decreasing the effects of tinnitus on a person's daily life, such as depression, insomnia, etc.
- For those people whose tinnitus is caused by an adverse or toxic reaction to a medication, stopping the drug may allow the hearing mechanism to recover; however, talk with your doctor before stopping any medication. Sometimes the adverse effects of medications on hearing may be permanent.
- Electrical stimulation and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation are some of the other treatment considerations available for certain individuals with tinnitus.
- Benzodiazepine medications, including alprazolam (Xanax), may help suppress nerve function and decrease tinnitus symptoms.
- Corticosteroid injections into the middle ear may decrease inflammation in certain cases of tinnitus.
- Antidepressant medications may decrease the intensity of tinnitus or resolve the noise altogether. Moreover, antidepressants may also help with the depression that is sometimes associated with the presence of persistent and chronic tinnitus.
- Prostaglandin analogs, such as misoprostol (Cytotec), may be of some help in some people with tinnitus.
What kind of doctor treats tinnitus?
Often tinnitus can be evaluated by a primary-care doctor or internist, but if consultation is needed, an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor) is the specialist that evaluates and cares for people with tinnitus. Audiologists are trained to perform hearing tests and assessments.