Tinnitus is often described as roaring, buzzing, crickets, hissing, static, humming, or ringing. It may be louder or softer at times and is most noticeable when it’s quiet. Many people have it and simply learn to ignore it, but others can’t seem to ignore it and are bothered constantly.
Tinnitus is a symptom, not a disease and there is not a specific treatment to cure it. The most common cause of tinnitus is sensory hearing loss. This condition presents two simultaneous complaints: “I hear but I don’t understand” and “My ears buzz or ring.” There can be other conditions that cause or contribute to tinnitus to lesser extents. High doses of aspirin, chemotherapy drugs, caffeine, and medications for hypertension can all contribute to increased tinnitus, but by and large the most common condition is hearing loss itself.
The following information is taken from the American Tinnitus Association Treatment Option page of their website:
Tinnitus is overwhelmingly connected to some level of hearing loss. Augmenting the reception and perception of external noise can often provide relief from the internal sound of tinnitus. Most patients develop tinnitus as a symptom of hearing loss, caused either by age, long-term hearing damage, or acute trauma to the auditory system. According to the general scientific consensus, hearing loss causes less external sound stimuli to reach the brain. In response, the brain undergoes neuroplastic changes in how it processes different sound frequencies. Tinnitus is the product of these maladaptive neuroplastic changes. Patients with hearing loss and tinnitus may find relief from the use of hearing aids and other sound amplification devices.”
A 2008-9 study published in The Hearing Review revealed that approximately 65% of patients experienced mild to moderate relief from tinnitus while using hearing aids, and that 22% experienced major relief. The House Ear Institute in California has referred to hearing aid amplification as, “The gold standard for tinnitus relief.”
There is agreement within the audiology community and verified through research that amplification is considered the standard of treatment for tinnitus management in the presence of sensory hearing loss. There are other forms of treatment available that are less successful and often incorporated in the absence of hearing loss such as tinnitus retraining therapy and masking.
Also, from the American Tinnitus Association: “There are presently no FDA-approved drugs specifically for tinnitus, and no medications that have been shown to reverse the neural hyperactivity at the root of tinnitus. Drugs cannot cure tinnitus.”
So no matter how many advertisements you may see on television about cures like Lipoflavanoids and other vitamins, there is simply no medical evidence that they work. However, there is evidence that anti-anxiety drugs work to help relax patients and make them feel less anxious about their tinnitus. You should visit with your otologist about these options.
All major hearing organizations include hearing aids as tinnitus treatment: the American Tinnitus Association, Better Hearing Institute, American Otological Society, American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, American Speech Hearing Association, House Ear Clinic, Academy of Doctors of Audiology, and the American Academy of Audiology.
Many of the better and more sophisticated hearing aids available today contain some form of tinnitus masking incorporated into the hearing aid circuitry which is easily used by the patient. One of the greatest challenges in working with tinnitus patients is that everyone is different. ReSound hearing aids include a tinnitus sound generator (TSG) that has helped many patients manage their tinnitus. The Smart App allows each patient to select and switch between sounds that provide the most relief. This direct audio streaming from a smartphone gives the patient direct access to customizable soundscapes that fit their unique needs.
Again, tinnitus is not a disease, but rather a symptom of an underlying condition. Tinnitus cannot be cured, but it can be managed.