You have a buzzing in your ears and it’s not improving, if anything it’s getting worse. It started off quietly enough, one of those “is it really there” kind of things. But after spending all day at the construction site (for work), you’ve noticed just how noisy (and how persistent) that buzzing has become. Sometimes, it sounds like ringing or other noises. You don’t know if you should come in and see us or how ringing in your ears could even be addressed.
The management of tinnitus (that’s what that buzzing is called) will differ from person to person and depend substantially on the origin of your hearing issues. But your own tinnitus treatment will share some common threads with others that can help you get prepared.
What kind of tinnitus do you have?
Tinnitus is incredibly common. The buzzing or ringing (or any number of noises) in your ear can be caused by a variety of underlying issues. So in terms of treatment, tinnitus is normally divided into one of two categories:
- Medical Tinnitus: Some tinnitus symptoms are caused by an underlying medical issue, like an ear infection, too much earwax, or a growth, among other conditions. Managing the underlying medical issue will usually be the priority of your medical professional.
- Non-Medical Tinnitus: Tinnitus that is triggered by hearing damage or hearing loss is typically referred to as “non-medical” tinnitus. Over time, exposure to harmful noise (like the noise at your construction site) can cause persistent, significant, and chronic tinnitus. It’s usually very difficult to treat non-medical tinnitus.
The best way to treat your symptoms will be determined by the root cause of your hearing issue and the type of tinnitus you have.
Treating medical tinnitus
If your tinnitus is related to a root medical condition, it’s likely that treating your original illness or ailment will alleviate the ringing in your ears. Here are some treatments for medical tinnitus:
- Surgery: When your tinnitus is caused by a tumor or other growth, doctors may perform surgery to remove the mass that is causing your tinnitus, especially if your symptoms are decreasing your quality of life.
- Antibiotics: If your tinnitus is caused by an ear infection (that is, a bacterial ear infection), your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Your tinnitus symptoms will probably go-away when the infection clears up.
- Hydrocortisone: Certain kinds of infections will not respond to antibiotics. For instance, antibiotics never work on viral infections. In these situations, your doctor may prescribe hydrocortisone to help you control other symptoms.
If your tinnitus is caused by a medical problem, you’ll want to see us to receive individualized treatment options.
Non-medical tinnitus treatments
The causes of non-medical tinnitus are often a lot harder to detect and manage than is typically the case with medical tinnitus. There’s normally no cure for non-medical tinnitus (especially in situations where the tinnitus is a result of hearing damage). Instead, treatment to enhance quality of life by alleviating symptoms is the normal strategy.
- Medications: Tinnitus is in some cases managed with experimental medication. As an example, tinnitus symptoms can sometimes be decreased by combinations of anti-anxiety medication and steroids. However, you’ll want to talk to us before making any decisions about medications.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: In some circumstances, you can be trained to disregard the noises of your tinnitus. This widely used method has helped many people do just that.
- Hearing aids: A hearing aid can help if your tinnitus is getting worse as your hearing worsens. When you have hearing loss everything externally gets quieter and that can make your tinnitus noises seem louder. A hearing aid can help hide the sound of your tinnitus by amping up the volume of everything else.
- Noise-masking devices: Sometimes called “white noise machines,” these devices are made to supply enough sound to decrease your ability to hear the buzzing or ringing caused by your tinnitus. Specific sounds can be tuned into these devices depending on what sounds your tinnitus is creating.
Find what works
For most of us, it won’t be completely clear what’s causing our tinnitus, so it’s likely you’ll need to attempt numerous strategies in order to successfully treat your own hearing issues. Depending on the source of your ringing or buzzing, there might not be a cure for your tinnitus. But there are various treatments available. Finding the right one for you is the trick.