Your hearing doctor has diagnosed that persistent ringing in your ears as tinnitus. If a physical cause is discovered, such as a tumor in your middle ear, then this condition may be curable. If no cause is determined, you'll be faced with it for the rest of your life. The treatment must then be focused on reducing the impact of tinnitus on your work, relationships and recreational interests. Here are a number of treatments that will help you cope with the ringing in your ears and minimize its impact on your life.
Treatments Have Two Objectives
These treatments don't cure tinnitus, but they work to help you get through the day in spite of the constant ringing. The two goals these treatments have include the following:
- masking the sound so you become less aware of the persistent ringing
- allowing you to ignore the sound and have less reaction to it
The following treatments will try to accomplish one or both of these goals to let you cope with tinnitus.
White Noise Generators
This device will play recorded or digital-produced sounds that will blend in with the ringing so you don't focus on it. Sounds such as wind blowing through trees, an oscillating fan or ocean waves on a beach are played at frequencies similar to the ringing sound. The sounds selected have a tranquil effect and often help people with tinnitus to sleep. Standalone devices are available that sit on the stand next to your bed. Computer and smartphone apps are also available to play white noise wherever you are.
These are designed as hearing aids to be worn most of the time. Your doctor or audiologist will adjust the sounds produced to match the frequency and volume of the ringing in your ears. The sounds generated are not intended to relax you but will allow the tinnitus to get lost in the noise produced. Instead of focusing on the ringing, it will become easier to ignore the mixture of sounds so you can concentrate on work or hobbies.
Instead of producing white noise to blend in with the ringing, audio retraining devices produce a series of musical tones that match the frequency of the ringing. Over time, your mind learns to ignore the musical sounds along with the ringing so you can focus on activities such as having a conversation with someone or watching a movie.
This is a way to help you avoid the stress that is created by the constant ringing in your ears. Stress can be a trigger for your tinnitus, which causes you more stress. Biofeedback is designed to help you get out of this cycle. There are a number of approaches to biofeedback training, but most follow a similar pattern such as:
- you'll be taught to reduce your stress by performing an action such as breathing in a certain pattern
- you'll be attached to equipment that gives you feedback as to how effective your breath work is in reducing your stress
- you'll practice until you don't need the feedback mechanism to reduce your stress
This is another way to retrain your mind. It gives your mind some other ways to react to the ringing in your ears. For instance, the hypnosis practitioner can give your mind the suggestion that whenever it hears the ringing, you think of a sunny day on the beach. This turns the sound into something that creates a relaxed state in you instead of irritation.
For more information, contact Hearing Professionals or a similar organization.