The sounds of tinnitus can vary, which makes this a difficult hearing problem to identify for many individuals. And there are many individuals. In fact, research shows that there are over 50 million people living with some form of tinnitus in the United States alone.
Depending on the severity of this common issue, it can range from a mild annoyance to a major impediment to your daily life. Left untreated, tinnitus can lead to other significant health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and even problems with relationships.
But since tinnitus is such a common problem, shouldn’t there be a cure? Well, in many ways, like the common cold, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Here, we’re taking a closer look at this hearing problem.
First, we identify what it is, then we investigate the unique sounds of tinnitus as everyone will experience it differently. Then, we discuss why tinnitus does not have a cure currently, but there are treatment options to help people live with this condition.
Luckily, many of these options have proven very effective and some people report hardly even noticing that ringing sound in their ears over time. If you suspect you have tinnitus, visit a doctor or audiologist to learn about potential treatment options.
Table of Contents
What is Tinnitus?
Let’s start with the basics: what exactly is tinnitus? Tinnitus is the perception of a “phantom noise” that does not actually exist. The individual will hear a sound, like a very slight buzzing or ringing, but there are no external stimuli to cause that sound.
This makes tinnitus a very frustrating condition to live with as no one else around you can hear the sounds. It also makes tinnitus a challenge to explain to other people and it leaves many wondering whether or not they even have a hearing problem.
What Does Tinnitus Sound Like?
This answer is not quite as simple to answer as you might expect. This is because tinnitus can range in how it sounds. We commonly hear about tinnitus as that “ringing in your ears,” but in reality, that’s just one way that this hearing issue can be experienced.
Depending on the source and severity of your tinnitus, it can sound vastly different. This, for many, makes it difficult to identify whether or not they even have tinnitus in the first place.
Depending on the source of your tinnitus, it may sound like one of the following:
- Pulsing sound (also known as pulsatile tinnitus)
Can Tinnitus Be Cured?
Sadly, there is no current medical cure for tinnitus. Researchers continue to learn more about how tinnitus and the auditory system works, but there is no medication or surgical procedure that will cure this hearing problem.
This may be, in part, due to the fact tinnitus is not really a medical condition itself. Actually, tinnitus is a symptom of an underlying condition, such as ear wax blockage, age-related hearing loss, or repeated exposure to loud noises.
Sometimes, by treating the underlying cause, tinnitus symptoms do go away—but this is only with certain sources of the hearing problem. For example, if your tinnitus is caused by ear wax blockage, a doctor can flush out the excess ear wax to provide relief.
How Can You Treat Tinnitus?
While there is no medical cure for tinnitus, there is still hope for patients. Don’t just suffer needlessly from those phantom noises. Doctors and audiologists have developed a variety of treatment options and lifestyle strategies to help reduce tinnitus symptoms.
Remember, these treatment options don’t “cure” the hearing issue, but they may lessen the sounds of tinnitus that are troubling you.
The treatment option that proves most effective usually comes down to the specific source of your tinnitus. For example, someone with tinnitus caused by ear wax blockage will have a very different path toward treatment compared to someone with tinnitus caused by exposure to loud noises or even a medical condition like an acoustic neuroma.
Therefore, it’s essential to first visit your doctor or an audiologist so that they can first identify the specific cause of your tinnitus. From there, they can help you begin your path toward better hearing health.
Some of the most common tinnitus treatment include:
- Hearing aids: hearing aids are especially common for those living with tinnitus caused by age-related hearing loss.
- Sound masking machines or white noise machines: these can mask the slight “buzzing” sound you’re hearing so you can go about your day peacefully. These may prove especially effective for helping tinnitus patients sleep.
- Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT).
- Lifestyle changes: these can include things like a healthier diet, moderate exercise, and cutting back on vices like smoking and drinking excess amounts of alcohol.
- Stress reduction: finding ways in your daily life to reduce the amount of stress that commonly makes the sounds of tinnitus even worse.
If you believe that you’re living with tinnitus—know that you are not alone. This common hearing problem affects millions of individuals all over the world. While tinnitus is much more common in older individuals (as age-related hearing loss is the most common cause), tinnitus can impact anyone.
Whether from ear wax build up or a major head injury, tinnitus can be temporary or prove to be permanent. And just as each case of tinnitus is unique, so are the different sounds.
While there is no medical cure for tinnitus, there are treatment options and strategies that can significantly reduce the sounds of tinnitus, helping patients to regain control of their hearing health again and find peace.
First, you should consult with your doctor or audiologist. They’ll be able to identify the unique source of your tinnitus, allowing them to begin developing a treatment plan to provide relief from tinnitus. Don’t suffer alone from this common hearing problem. Reach out to your doctor or audiologist today.