A woman pulls the pillow over her ears trying to block out the tinnitus as she falls asleep

Looking for tinnitus relief? You’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 15% of Americans experience tinnitus in some form. But tinnitus, along with its underlying causes, can be different for each person. What does life with tinnitus look like? What treatments are available? Is it possible to stop ringing in ears? You’ll get answers to these questions and more in this helpful guide.

What is Tinnitus?

If you’ve ever wondered how to stop ringing in ears, you may have been dealing with tinnitus. But ringing in the ears isn’t the only form of tinnitus. People have also described it as roaring, clicking, hissing, or buzzing, ranging in volume from soft to loud. Some experience it as low- or high-pitched sound. It can occur in only one ear or both.

Tinnitus episodes may last for only five minutes. Many people experience it as coming and going intermittently. For others, the noise can be constant and steady. When it lasts for six months or more, it’s considered chronic tinnitus.

Tinnitus Diagnosis

During your search for tinnitus relief, you will need to visit a doctor to get a diagnosis. You may receive a diagnosis based only on the symptoms you report, but you could need to have more extensive testing. Medical professionals will try to determine if your tinnitus has an underlying condition that triggers it. Keep in mind, however, that a root cause cannot be found in some cases. When first consulting with your doctor, you should describe what you’re hearing as best as possible:

  • Clicking sounds, which may point to muscle contractions in and around your ears
  • Pulsing, rushing, or humming, which indicate vascular causes such as high blood pressure
  • Low-pitched ringing, which can result from ear canal blockages, stiff inner ear bones, or Meniere’s disease
  • High-pitched ringing, resulting from a wide range of possible causes: exposure to excessively loud noise, acoustic neuroma, medication side effects, or hearing loss

An examination includes questions about your medical history plus an examination of your ears, neck, and head. Your doctor could ask you to move in certain ways to see if the noise changes in pitch, type, or volume: moving your eyes, clenching your jaw, and moving your arms, neck, and legs. Diagnosis may also involve audiological exams plus imaging and lab tests.

Audiological exams are hearing assessments that may identify any root causes of your tinnitus. You’ll be asked to sit in a soundproof room while wearing earphones that convey sounds into each ear independently. This tests your left ear and right ear separately. During testing, you’ll be asked to indicate if you can hear sounds. The results are compared to normal benchmarks for people your age.

Depending on your situation, medical professionals can also send you for lab and/or imaging tests. Lab tests involve drawing blood and testing it for vitamin deficiencies, thyroid issues, anemia, or heart problems. Imaging tests include CT or MRI scans.

Tinnitus Treatment

Tinnitus relief depends on a few factors. When designing tinnitus treatment plans, medical professionals address any underlying health conditions. If there is a root cause in your case, your treatment could include some common interventions:

  • Removal of excess earwax and blockages
  • Targeting vascular conditions with medication, surgery, or lifestyle changes
  • Hearing aids for noise-induced or age-related hearing loss
  • Medication changes if the tinnitus is a side effect

Lifestyle and Medical Treatments for Tinnitus

Wear Hearing Protection

You may encounter excessive loud noise in several environments: using loud machinery, live music events, or even while hunting. Foam earplugs or earmuffs are the best protection to minimize noise exposure. You’ll not only avoid making your tinnitus worse, but you’ll also prevent further hearing damage.

Use Noise Suppression

Some instances of tinnitus do not have a cure. However, there are methods to help you manage your symptoms. White noise machines are a popular option: They produce sounds such as soft static, rain, or ocean waves. Some even include pillow speakers, which can also help you sleep. If you have a smartphone or smart home speaker, you can download white noise apps or digital skills. You can also try fans, air conditioners, humidifiers, or dehumidifiers. All these may make your tinnitus less noticeable.

Some people use masking devices to manage their tinnitus symptoms. These are worn in the ear, just like hearing aids, and emit a constant low-level white noise. This sound helps quell tinnitus symptoms.

Evaluate Your Diet

Diet can play an important role with home remedies for tinnitus. This is especially true if yours is caused by vascular issues such as high blood pressure or if you’re dealing with Meniere’s disease. Cutting back on sodium intake is key.

Meanwhile, don’t overlook other healthy eating practices: drinking plenty of water, limiting alcohol consumption, or lowering caffeine intake. Your tinnitus may have other food triggers or none at all. Try keeping a food journal, recording what you eat along with any symptoms you experience. And if you use tobacco, now is a good time to quit: Nicotine is a stimulant that restricts blood flow, which may aggravate tinnitus symptoms.

Consider Your Medications

While there are no pharmaceutical cures for tinnitus, some medications may offer a degree of tinnitus relief. If underlying conditions are a cause, your doctor may adjust your medications to better treat them and possibly reduce the impacts of your tinnitus. You may also be prescribed medication for anxiety or depression, both of which can come with tinnitus.

Seek Counseling Options

Living with tinnitus can be challenging, but mental health options may be key to helping improve your quality of life. You may seek counseling for depression and anxiety if they accompany your condition. Other mental and behavioral health therapies may be helpful. There’s Tinnitus retraining therapy, or TRT for short, which blends sound masking and professional counseling. Through cognitive behavioral therapy, you can learn healthy coping techniques to help alleviate your distress.

Your Trusted Audiologists in Scottsdale

Like you, millions of Americans want to know how to get rid of ringing in ears. Fortunately, you have options for tinnitus relief. Metro Hearing can help you take the first steps toward improving your quality of life. Schedule a consultation online or call us at (602) 639-4064.

Image Source: Damir Khabirov / Shutterstock