Tinnitus is a ringing in the ears. It has a variety of potential causes, but the effects are the same: a constant and unending ringing in one's ears. If you've been struggling with tinnitus, the first and most important thing to know is that you're not alone. According to the American Tinnitus Association, you are joined by 50 million of your fellow Americans who also have dealt with (or are still dealing with) tinnitus of some length and variety, 20 million of whom have chronic tinnitus.
And it is a struggle. Psychology Today ran an article about the devastating mental health effects that tinnitus can have. Including, but by no means limited to, insomnia, depression, suicidal ideation, among others. It's a serious problem, and one that can have devastating effects on those who suffer from it.
In general, the first step towards treating tinnitus is to ensure that it's not being caused by some other health condition. Authorities like the Mayo Clinic refer to tinnitus as a symptom, even while acknowledging that the cause may not be found. If you're here, you likely already know this. You've probably jumped through these hoops, and are looking for something to treat your tinnitus.
Because tinnitus is often a symptom and because it's often difficult to find the root cause, chronic cases of tinnitus are often incurable. However, this does not mean that the tinnitus is not treatable. There are a variety of treatment options available. No one treatment is going to be better than the others. It's all about how best to manage your tinnitus, and that's going to vary based on a lot of factors.
Here are some ways that tinnitus is being treated in the United States.
- Masking: While the sound that most tinnitus sufferers deal with has no audio origin (there are rare exceptions), that doesn't mean sound can't be used to treat it. Masking is a common technique, sometimes it is used in conjunction with hearing aids. This may be especially true for people who are dealing with tinnitus as well as hearing loss, which is extremely common as well. Masking is what it sounds like — disguising the sound of tinnitus, often using white noise. Sometimes this is done with more specific frequencies and is tuned specifically to you, sometimes it is not.
- Counseling: This is probably not particularly surprising given the mental health issues that tinnitus can cause. In fact, many of the treatment options will also suggest counseling as well because tinnitus is strongly associated with mental health issues. But, there are specific counseling and therapy techniques that can help you deal with your tinnitus better and are treatment options in and of themselves.
- Pharmaceuticals: It would be nice if there were a wonder drug that made tinnitus just go away. For most people, there isn't, but there are drugs that can help you cope better with the effects that tinnitus has on your life. Reducing stress, anxiety, and depression may make it a lot easier to deal with tinnitus.
- Experimental: Naturally, there are also experimental techniques that institutions are working on to help combat the effects of tinnitus. It may be worth looking into these if you've tried other methods and are still struggling, but with new and untried techniques, there's no guarantee of success.
Don't deal with this on your own, get in touch with someone who offers tinnitus hearing treatment near you.