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Why is There No Cure for Tinnitus?

a woman with tinnitus

Tinnitus is a relatively common hearing condition that causes a ringing in the ears. It can put stress on your day-to-day activities and makes it difficult to concentrate. Whether intermittent or persistent, finding relief for this condition is crucial to living your everyday life. So, is there a cure for tinnitus?

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the perception of sound when there is no external sound present. The condition is often referred to as a ringing in the ears. While ringing sounds are very common, but others may experience a buzzing, hissing, swooshing, whistling or clicking sound. In some rare cases, patients may even hear music.

Is there a cure for tinnitus?

Tinnitus is not actually a disease but is a symptom of something else. Many things can trigger tinnitus, including exposure to loud sounds, acoustic trauma, hearing loss and even some medications. Some health disorders can also be a cause of tinnitus.

Because it can be triggered by so many things, there is no cure for tinnitus, although there are some things that can help.

One of the difficulties is that there are many subtypes of tinnitus, and it is not always clear what the cause is, which makes developing an effective drug to treat it very difficult. There is also a lack of funding and research into the condition.

How is tinnitus diagnosed?

A doctor will examine your ears, head and neck to look for a possible cause. There are several tests involved.

An audiologist will test your hearing. During this test, you will sit in a soundproof room wearing a set of headphones. Sounds will be played into one ear at a time, while you indicate when you can hear the sound. The results are compared to those considered normal for your age, and then used to rule out possible causes of tinnitus.

Your movement may also be tested. The audiologist may ask you to move your eyes, clench your jaw or move your arms, legs and neck. If the tinnitus changes when you move a certain way, this can help to identify the cause.

What can you do for tinnitus?

While there is no cure, there are some tools and treatments that can help to manage tinnitus.

Some hearing aids come with tinnitus technology, which helps to minimize the sounds caused by the condition. Ask your audiologist for advice on the best options to do this.

If your tinnitus keeps you awake a night, you could try meditation apps that play white noise or soothing sounds like rainfall or ocean sounds. A noise in the background can help you to sleep better and drown out the ringing of the tinnitus. White noise from a fan or a dehumidifier may also help you to sleep better at night. You could also use a white noise device with pillow speakers.

Hearing aids are also common treatments for tinnitus, even if a hearing loss isn’t present. While using hearing aids to restore hearing can sometimes alleviate tinnitus symptoms, they can also be equipped with masking features to help you better block out the sounds.

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is often seen as one of the most effective treatments. Psychology based interventions like this can work to improve the quality of life and reduce the distress caused by tinnitus, but this is more of a mind over matter approach. This may also be used in tandem with tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), which seeks to help you ignore the sounds in environments that might be difficult, such as when you’re sleeping or in the shower.

At home, there are some techniques that you can use to help you cope. Reduce your exposure to possible triggers. Common triggers include things like loud noises, caffeine and nicotine. Cover up the noise with a fan, soft music or low volume radio static. Try to manage your stress levels, as stress can make tinnitus worse. Try to reduce your alcohol consumption. Alcohol dilates your blood vessels, which increases the force of your blood. This then increases blood flow to the inner ear, which can make tinnitus seem worse.

While there is no actual cure for tinnitus, there are many techniques, tools and treatments to manage the symptoms and to help you to gain a better quality of life while living with tinnitus. If you are living with tinnitus, call The Hearing and Tinnitus Center at 303-534-0163 to learn about your options for treatment.