Several clinically proven tinnitus treatments are prescribed by doctors. Tinnitus sufferers have also found lifestyle management tips that improved their symptoms.
Multiple types of tinnitus, varying underlying causes and individual physiological differences contribute to why there are multiple ways to treat tinnitus.
Sometimes, a simple change to your lifestyle can also work as a tinnitus remedy.
Here are 9 treatments your doctor may prescribe and 7 lifestyle change suggestions that you can try to find relief for the ringing in your ears.
Doctor Prescribed Tinnitus Treatments
Through years of research, there is yet to be a 100% effective tinnitus cure.
But, there are many treatments that your doctor or tinnitus specialist might suggest for you to lessen the buzzing in your ears.
What often works best is a combination of two or more tinnitus relief strategies.
Some help to directly reduce the aggressiveness of your tinnitus.
And others help get rid of the irritation you experience while dealing with the ringing in your ears.
Most of the tinnitus treatment therapies available today focus on helping you ignore how much you hear tinnitus.
Although it might seem ineffective, all of the treatments below have been proven through clinical trials and randomized testing to help many people drastically improve their quality of life.
1. Treat Underlying Health Issues
Many things can cause tinnitus.
One thing to remember is that tinnitus itself is always a symptom of something else going on with your health.
For example, you may develop tinnitus from an ear or sinus infection.
Or, it could be a simple case of earwax buildup.
This is not an exhaustive list, but to give you an idea, some other issues that cause tinnitus are:
- Hearing loss
- Reaction to medication
- Head or neck injury
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Anxiety, stress, or depression
- Brain trauma
- Thyroid problems
- Bell’s palsy
(For an in-depth look at what might be causing your tinnitus, check out this guide.)
When your doctor or specialist gets the full picture of your medical history, they’ll be able to guide you to which treatments will help lessen your tinnitus.
2. Hearing Aids
Many cases of tinnitus are caused by hearing loss.
In these cases, hearing aids not only help with your hearing loss but can also improve your tinnitus.
As the delicate hairs in your inner ear die off, they do not grow back.
This is what causes your hearing loss (although, some exciting experiments are being conducted to regrow those inner ear hairs to try to cure tinnitus and reverse hearing loss).
The most common solution for hearing loss is hearing aids.
Research shows that at least 60% of tinnitus sufferers report some tinnitus relief by using hearing aids.
Modern hearing aids even have smartphone apps to help you use the device with ease and make it personally customizable.
3. Sound-Masking Devices
These devices are designed specifically for tinnitus patients.
They are programmed specifically for your tinnitus frequency to help cover up the irritating sound you are hearing.
In some cases, they can be programmed to play white noise or a gentle sound like running water, if that helps your tinnitus.
4. White-Noise Machines
Less invasive than hearing aids and sound-masking devices that must be worn on your ears, white-noise machines are small speakers that are programmed to generate nature sounds or different white-noise frequencies.
You can also use your tablet or smartphone to download an app that runs those noises in the background for you.
Many tinnitus sufferers find that using a white-noise machine or app helps them get the restful sleep that is hard to come by when their tinnitus is at its worst.
5. Prescription Medication
Currently, there aren’t any FDA-approved prescriptions specifically for tinnitus.
But some doctors will prescribe medications that are targeted at other health issues to help their patients get tinnitus relief.
These range from anti-anxiety and anti-depressants to medications for seizures, Alzheimer’s and high blood pressure medication, among others.
If your doctor decides to try any prescription to treat your tinnitus, they will consider your underlying health issues and choose something that has been shown to help others with issues similar to yours.
6. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
In almost all studies and research papers about tinnitus management techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the one that’s mentioned again and again as the most effective treatment to reduce tinnitus perception and improve the overall quality of life.
One reason might be that some cases of tinnitus are the result of extreme stress, anxiety, depression or insomnia.
Along with tinnitus, those conditions still don’t have a true cure.
But they can all be effectively managed with CBT.
CBT is a proven therapy where a professional counselor or therapist works with you through several sessions, based on your needs.
Through these sessions, they help you identify tinnitus triggers, mental patterns that might be contributing to your tinnitus flare-ups and help you learn how to live with your condition.
It’s been proved that people with tinnitus who used CBT had reduced symptoms of tinnitus-related irritation.
7. Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) was introduced in the early 90s.
Similar to CBT, it focuses on helping you learn to live with your condition, but it was specifically designed to improve tinnitus.
There are three steps that a TRT professional will go through with you:
- They get a very deep look at your medical and personal history as well as your everyday habits.
- A small device to be worn behind your ears is introduced that makes noise to distract you from your tinnitus perception.
- They work with you to teach you how to ignore your tinnitus sound.
They may also incorporate mindfulness and relaxation techniques to help you deal with the stress that tinnitus puts you under.
Many studies show that TRT is very helpful for a wide range of tinnitus sufferers.
8. Physical Exercise
Multiple studies have come to the same conclusion: Most chronic diseases today are caused by a lack of physical exercise.
It might seem like a strange prescription, but research shows that tinnitus can be improved by starting a workout routine.
It doesn’t need to be an extreme workout regimen.
Just starting with walking or another easy activity can be all you need to help get your tinnitus under control.
9. Mindfulness Meditation
A few years ago, there was a study to examine if mindfulness-based stress reduction could help with chronic pain conditions.
They observed that mindfulness improved:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Another study on the effects of mindfulness meditation specifically for tinnitus showed that both mindfulness meditation as well as relaxation therapy helped manage tinnitus, but the mindfulness meditation worked better than the relaxation therapy.
Mindfulness meditation involves several techniques that allow you to focus on your awareness.
This is what you can feel and sense at the moment, without any judgment.
Using breathing techniques and guided imagery is a common practice with meditation.
Mindfulness training allows you to shift your focus away from tinnitus and focus wholly on self-awareness.
Lifestyle Management Techniques
Many people dealing with tinnitus have found that simple lifestyle changes improved their symptoms dramatically.
Here are seven of the most common ones that seem to give the most relief.
1. Avoid Noisy Places
By far, the number one thing people report that triggers or worsens their tinnitus are loud places.
Although it’s nearly impossible to eliminate noise, if you aim to avoid environments with extremely loud noises, keeping your tinnitus under control might be easier for you.
Another option is to get noise-canceling devices for when you have to be exposed to very loud noises.
2. Cut Down Caffeine
It’s not completely understood why, but many people have significantly improved tinnitus when they cut down or completely cut out coffee and caffeine.
One explanation is that caffeine leads to higher blood pressure, which is a big trigger for tinnitus.
You can try cutting back for a few weeks to see if this helps the ringing in your ears.
There are many healthy alternatives you can try for that extra boost of energy to help you get through the day.
Cutting back caffeine has the added benefit of improved sleep, which in and of itself can be a lifesaver.
3. Lower Your Salt Intake
A large percentage of tinnitus cases are linked to high blood pressure.
A low-sodium diet is often encouraged for those struggling with their blood pressure and cholesterol.
With tinnitus being a side-effect of high blood pressure, it’s no wonder that lowering your salt intake can make a big difference in your tinnitus symptoms!
Even something as simple as having a bowl of soup at your local diner can set off your tinnitus if it’s full of salt.
Keeping track of what you eat, drink, how you sleep, your stress levels and other factors will help you determine what triggers your tinnitus so that you can take control of the symptoms.
4. Quit Smoking
Many tinnitus studies show clear evidence that smoking is detrimental to tinnitus – either by triggering, worsening or even being the root cause of tinnitus.
Even just being exposed to second-hand smoke you’re twice as likely to develop tinnitus than someone who doesn’t live with a smoker.
Although there are not too many studies yet on the effects of vaping and tinnitus, anecdotal reports show that it might have negative effects on tinnitus.
Deciding to quit to see an improvement in tinnitus doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
These days there are many options to help you ease into a smoke-free life.
5. Reduce Alcohol
Alcohol is commonly used to help you relax at the end of a stressful day or week.
But studies show that tinnitus patients suffer when they drink.
In fact, 84% of the participants in one study reported that the level of their tinnitus was increased when they drank.
On top of that, 73% said that they became more aware of their tinnitus.
Those who consumed less alcohol said their tinnitus improved.
6. Manage Your Stress Triggers
Stress has been linked to tinnitus in many studies.
Not only that, stress also triggers high blood pressure and it’s connected to anxiety and depression –all conditions that often go hand-in-hand with tinnitus.
If you can’t make immediate changes to outside stress triggers, such as your job, try one of these:
- Learn some easy breathing techniques
- Start an easy exercise routine
- Take time for yourself to unwind and destress
Keeping your stress levels down could be the best thing you do for your overall health, period.
7. Limit Sweets
In some cases, sugar has been known to worsen or trigger tinnitus.
Cutting back on the amount of sugar you eat per day could help improve not only your tinnitus but many other health conditions.
Like how exercise helps improve many areas of health, cutting down the amount of sugar we consume in America has many health benefits – one of which is helping improve tinnitus.
Your quality of life is the most important thing to be focused on.
Scientists are hard at work looking for a cure for tinnitus.
Until then, don’t be afraid to try something unusual like changing your diet or making other lifestyle changes while looking for what brings you the best tinnitus relief.