Put A Stop To That Annoying Ear Ringing!
If you have been hearing a constant ringing noise even though there is no noise source around you, you may be suffering from a medical condition called tinnitus. Rudimentarily described as ringing in ears, tinnitus may also cause you to hear other sounds like swishing, clicking, or buzzing, without an external stimulus. Exposure to loud sounds, hearing loss, wax build-up in the ears, stress, and withdrawal from certain drugs may cause tinnitus. Treatment for the condition is not yet definitively formulated and here is a list of aids that seem to work.
1 Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Traditionally used to treat mental conditions like depression, anxiety, and PSTD, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be applied to treat tinnitus. CBT assumes that the human behavior is affected by the thought. Therefore, it aims to align the individual’s thoughts for a positive outcome. While treating tinnitus, CBT usually involves making the individual better-informed and hence less likely to establish false beliefs about his/her condition. It can also help in reducing stress and anxiety which are known causes of constant ringing in the ears. Each individual responds differently to CBT as a treatment for tinnitus and the effects may be lost in absence of continued therapy.
2 Medications: The causes of tinnitus are spread across a broad spectrum and consequently, so are its medications. Tricyclic antidepressants like nortriptyline and amitriptylin may be prescribed in a few cases after careful analysis of the possible side effects which include blurred vision and abnormal functioning of the heart. Clonazepam, an anticonvulsant drug is known to reduce the ringing sensation in a few people. Antihistamines and anti-anxiety drugs are also commonly prescribed to cure tinnitus. Acamprostate, a drug that is used to treat alcoholism is also known to work in some cases. Zinc and melatonin are effective in a few cases so is the herbal extract of Ginkgo Biloba.
Several drugs are known to worsen tinnitus. These include certain antibiotics, antidepressants, cancer medications, and diuretic drugs. Consult a doctor to determine which drug will work for you and which ones you should avoid.
3 Tinnitus Maskers: Tinnitus sounds are at most noticeable when the individual is in a quiet environment. Tinnitus maskers are simple hearing devices that fill the listener’s background with a pleasant noise that masks the ringing sound. This pleasant noise is usually a white noise sound like that of a waterfall or wind. A few tinnitus maskers can specifically target the frequencies at which the listener experiences tinnitus sounds, and mask them with a combination is natural and artificial sounds.
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Most people who complain of tinnitus where the maskers only in quiet environments but a few may require round the clock masking.
Continued tinnitus masking may cause neural remapping in the brain which can help the hearer overcome tinnitus through a neurological process called habituation. However, complete masking of the tinnitus sounds can hamper the process of habituation. Therefore, tinnitus maskers show the best results when working at a frequency slightly lower than that of the tinnitus sounds.
4 Tinnitus Retraining Therapy: The area of our brain responsible for feeling emotions tends to prioritizes tinnitus sounds, making the hearer feel that the ringing is louder or more persistent than it actually is. Tinnitus Retraining Therapy uses the neurological process of habituation to help the brain grow more accustomed to tinnitus sounds. It aims to retrain the neuron mapping of the brain such that it starts perceiving tinnitus sounds not as conscious sounds but as subconscious entities. Relegating tinnitus sounds to the subconscious helps the hearer overcome tinnitus’s negative effect. TRT’s results are longer lasting than other methods to cure tinnitus and follow-up consultations can often be performed over the phone.
5 Do It Yourself: The first step to warding off tinnitus sounds is as simple as keeping your ears clean. No, don’t reach for that q-tip yet; it can push the ear wax further into your ear canal. Use ear drops available at drug stores, glycerin, or mineral oil to clean your ears gently. If the wax build-up persists, consult a doctor about lavage or suction cleaning. Exercise regularly, protect your ears from prolonged exposure to loud noises (like listening to songs on headphones for too long) and try to keep stress levels under check. If you don’t need to wear a tinnitus masker, you may use a sound therapy to ease occasional bouts of ringing. Plug in some white noise and relax.
Tinnitus affects 10-15% of the total population experience but it becomes a serious problem only in 1-2%. The ringing usually reduces with time and treatment but tinnitus may be just a symptom of an underlying problem in the ears, nose, heart or the brain. It is best to consult a doctor even when a mild ringing in ears is experienced.