Treatment and Prevention of Tinnitus

Treatment of tinnitus depends upon the cause(s) of tinnitus. If an underlying cause of tinnitus can be found the cause should be treated. If a cause can not be found tinnitus may be treated symptomatically. The treatable causes of tinnitus include presence of earwax, certain medications (used for other medical conditions), blood vessel disorders etc.

Remove earwax: if this is causing tinnitus. It is ideal to visit your doctor for removing earwax, because in some individuals the earwax may become hard and it becomes difficult to remove it. Your doctor (ENT surgeon or otolaryngologist) will use wax softener if required.

Medications: Certain medications may cause tinnitus and if so, it should be changed and a safer medication used. If the tinnitus is due to any medication, stopping the medication will improve tinnitus.

Correct treatable causes: If any blood vessel problem is causing tinnitus, the condition should be treated. Sometimes surgery may be required for treating blood vessel conditions.

Other measures used in treatment of tinnitus:

Your doctor may give you an electronic device to suppress the noise (“white noise”). These include hearing aids, white noise machines, masking device, tinnitus retraining etc. Hearing aids are useful if you have tinnitus along with hearing problem. White noise machines are electronic device that produce natural sounds such as sound of falling rain or sound of ocean waves etc and effective in treating tinnitus in some individuals. Masking devices are basically same as white noise machines and produce natural noise continuously at low level and suppress tinnitus. Tinnitus retraining is a device that delivers a specific musical sound that can mask the specific frequency of tinnitus. As you get used to the musical sound, you will shift focus from tinnitus and you will be able to concentrate.

Medications used for tinnitus treatment:

Certain medications may be useful in some patients with tinnitus. Medications used with some success for treatment of tinnitus include tricyclic antidepressants (e.g. amytriptyline, nortriptyline) and benzodiazepines (alprazolam). These medications should be used in case of severe tinnitus only. Tricyclic antidepressants have high side effects, which need to be kept in mind.

Prevention of tinnitus:

It is not easy to prevent tinnitus, but certain measures can help in preventing some types of tinnitus.

  • Turn down volume while listening to music, especially while using headphones. It is ideal not to use headphones for long duration.
  • Use of hearing protection can be useful, especially if you are engaged in profession (such as use chain saws, you are engaged in work where loud noise is produced e.g. firearms use, jet pilot) where you are exposed to loud noise.
  • Keep your cardiovascular heath good by doing regular exercise and eating right.

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