Tinnitus is often diagnosed by your doctor solely on the basis of your symptoms. However, in order to cure your symptoms, your doctor will also try to establish whether your tinnitus is caused by another, underlying illness. It is not always possible to pinpoint the source of a problem.
Tinnitus is often characterized as a ringing in the ears, even when no external sound is present. Tinnitus, on the other hand, may produce various kinds of phantom sounds in your ears, such as:
The majority of individuals who have tinnitus have subjective tinnitus, or tinnitus that only you can hear. Tinnitus sounds may range in pitch from a loud roar to a high scream and can be heard in one or both ears. In certain instances, the sound may be so loud that it impairs your ability to focus or hear outside sounds. Tinnitus may be present all of the time or come and go.
Tinnitus may manifest as a repetitive pulsating or whooshing sound, typically in sync with your pulse, in rare instances. This is known as pulsatile tinnitus. If you have pulsatile tinnitus, your doctor may be able to detect it during an examination (objective tinnitus).
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To help identify the cause of your tinnitus, your doctor will most likely ask you questions about your medical history and examine your ears, head, and neck. A hearing (audiological) examination is a frequent exam. Throughout the test, you’ll sit in a soundproof room wearing earphones that transmit certain noises into one ear at a time. When you hear the sound, you’ll be asked to identify it, and your results will be compared to those considered normal for your age. This may help rule out or identify possible causes of tinnitus.
Movement. Your doctor may instruct you to move your eyes, tighten your jaw, or move your neck, arms, and legs. If your tinnitus changes or worsens, it may help identify an underlying problem that needs to be treated.
Examinations using imaging technology. Depending on the likely source of your tinnitus, imaging tests such as CT or MRI scans may be needed.
In the lab, tests are being performed. A blood test may be ordered by your doctor to check for anemia, thyroid problems, heart disease, or vitamin deficiencies.
Make every effort to describe to your doctor the kind of tinnitus noises you are experiencing. The sounds you hear may help your doctor determine whether there is an underlying issue.
Clicking. This kind of sound suggests that your tinnitus is being produced by muscle spasms in and around your ear.
It may be pulsating, squeezing, or humming. These sounds are often produced by blood vessel (vascular) issues, such as high blood pressure, and you may hear them while exercising or changing positions, such as laying down or standing up.
A low-pitched ringing. This kind of noise may be caused by an ear canal blockage, Meniere’s disease, or stiff inner ear bones (otosclerosis).
A high-pitched ringing. This is the most common kind of tinnitus sounds. Loud sounds, hearing loss, and medications are all potential causes. Acoustic neuroma may cause persistent and high-pitched ringing in one ear.
Tinnitus treatment is determined by whether your tinnitus is caused by a medical condition. If this is the case, your doctor may be able to help you by treating the underlying cause. One example is the eradication of earwax. Tinnitus symptoms may be alleviated by eliminating an earwax blockage.
I’m dealing with a blood vessel issue. In order to address the condition, underlying blood vessel issues may need medication, surgery, or another kind of treatment.
Hearing aids. If your tinnitus is caused by noise-induced or age-related hearing loss, hearing aids may help improve your symptoms.
You’re altering your medication. If a drug you’re taking seems to be the cause of your tinnitus, your doctor may advise you to stop taking it, decrease the dosage, or switch to a different medication.
Tinnitus is often incurable and untreatable. There are, however, treatments available to help make your symptoms less noticeable. Your doctor may recommend that you use an electronic device to mask the noise. One example of a gadget is a white noise machine. These devices, which produce a sound similar to static or natural sounds such as falling rain or ocean waves, are often used to treat tinnitus. You may use a white noise machine with pillow speakers to help you sleep. White noise is generated in the bedroom by fans, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and air conditioners, which may help make tinnitus less noticeable at night.
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Masking devices are a kind of masking device. These devices, similar to hearing aids, are worn in the ear and provide a continuous, low-level white noise that alleviates tinnitus symptoms.
Counseling Counseling is a kind of behavioral treatment that attempts to help you live with tinnitus by altering your thoughts and feelings about your symptoms. Tinnitus may grow less irritating to you as time goes by. Tinnitus retraining treatment is one alternative for counseling (TRT). TRT is a tailored program that is usually provided by an audiologist or a tinnitus treatment center. TRT combines sound masking with professional treatment. Typically, you wear an earpiece to help mask your tinnitus symptoms while getting guided treatment. Over time, TRT may help you notice tinnitus less and feel less disturbed by your symptoms.
Cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, is a kind of counseling (CBT). A trained mental health practitioner or psychologist can help you develop coping techniques to help you manage your tinnitus symptoms. Counseling may also help with other problems linked with tinnitus, such as worry and sadness. Many mental health professionals provide CBT for tinnitus in individual or group sessions, and CBT programs are also available online.
Medications While medicines cannot cure tinnitus, they may help reduce the severity of symptoms or their effects in certain cases. To help relieve your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe medication to treat an underlying condition or to manage the worry and sorrow that often accompany tinnitus.
Future treatments are being investigated to determine whether magnetic or electrical brain stimulation may help relieve tinnitus symptoms. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) are two examples.
Clinical trials look into Mayo Clinic research that is testing new treatments, strategies, and diagnostics for preventing, detecting, treating, or managing this illness.
Tinnitus is often untreatable as a result of lifestyle and home therapies. Some people, on the other hand, get used to it and notice it less than they did at first. For many people, some changes make the symptoms less uncomfortable. Wear hearing protection, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Loud sounds may cause hearing loss and tinnitus by damaging the nerves in the ears over time. Take steps to protect your hearing in order to keep your tinnitus from increasing. If you use chainsaws, are a musician, work in an industry that uses loud equipment, or use firearms, you should always wear over-the-ear hearing protection (particularly pistols or shotguns).
Turn down the volume. Hearing loss and tinnitus may result from listening to loud music via headphones at high volumes.
Utilize white noise. If your tinnitus is especially noticeable in quiet settings, try using a white noise generator to mask the tinnitus noises. If you don’t have a white noise generator, a fan, soft music, or radio static on low level may suffice.
Reduce your use of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. These medications, especially if used in high amounts, may impede blood flow and cause tinnitus.
There is little evidence that alternative medicine treatments are effective for tinnitus. Coping and support In addition to any therapy options given by your doctor, here are some suggestions to help you cope with tinnitus: Support groups. It may be helpful to share your experience with those who suffer with tinnitus. Tinnitus support groups meet in person, and there are also online forums. Choose a group that is conducted by a physician, audiologist, or another qualified health professional to ensure that the information you get in the group is accurate.
Education. It may be helpful to learn as much as you can about tinnitus and how to cure it. Some people find that just understanding about their tinnitus makes it less uncomfortable.
Stress relief. Tinnitus may be aggravated by stress. Techniques for stress management such as relaxation treatment, biofeedback, and exercise may be beneficial.
Preparing for your appointment Tell your doctor about: Your signs and symptoms Your medical history, including any other health conditions you have, such as hearing loss, high blood pressure, or clogged arteries (atherosclerosis) All medications you take, including herbal remedies What to expect from your doctor.