What Can Help my Tinnitus?

By: Kelly Warf, Au.D.

About 50 million Americans have experienced ringing in the ear that occurs occasionally and lasts a few seconds. Concert goers may have experienced it for an hour or day after attending an event. While these cases demonstrate temporary or transient tinnitus, for 12 million people the tinnitus is permanent.

The most common cause of tinnitus is hearing loss; sometimes the tinnitus is more noticeable than the hearing loss. For individuals who experience persistent tinnitus, a hearing aid may be recommended for sound therapy. The use of sound therapy in a hearing aid can make the tinnitus less noticeable while not blocking an individual’s hearing ability- as an earbud would. An evaluation by an Audiologist is needed to determine the cause of your tinnitus and appropriate recommendation.

Certain lifestyle habits can exacerbate tinnitus; while they don’t cause tinnitus, modifying these factors can help reduce the frequency and/or intensity of tinnitus. Try reducing stress, implementing dietary restrictions (minimize caffeine, alcohol, and sodium), quit smoking, and get a good night’s sleep. Keeping a log can help identify triggers to avoid. Some people try home remedies and herbal supplements; however, research has not supported the claims that this treats tinnitus.

There are medical conditions that can trigger or worsen tinnitus. For instance, ear wax, ear infection or perforated ear drum can trigger the ringing. These etiologies cause short-term tinnitus and can be treated by an ENT physician. Other conditions may require further assessments and a referral to a specialist (e.g., temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, dental issues, cardiovascular disease, blood vessel issues, or head and neck trauma).

You can prevent the development of tinnitus by protecting your ears from excessive noise exposure. Wearing hearing protection when around noise can protect your hearing. Hearing protection comes in all shapes and sizes; from disposable foam plugs, to ear muffs and custom hearing protection. Talk to your audiologist to find the right hearing protection based on your environmental needs.

Most cases of tinnitus will not go away on its own and require the evaluation and management of a specialist. The first step is an ENT evaluation and audiological exam. If you experience tinnitus, call our office today and schedule your appointment. Call 847-685-1000.

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