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What are the Best Treatments for Tinnitus?

a woman with slight ear pain

If you have been diagnosed with tinnitus, then you will naturally begin to consider your options for treatment. To assist with this process, below, we have outlined three conventional tinnitus treatments and how they may be able to help manage the condition. 

Hearing aids 

  • Hearing aids are usually used to treat hearing loss, but they can also serve as a treatment for tinnitus for those who are experiencing both conditions. Given that tinnitus and hearing loss have high comorbidity levels, this dual treatment approach can be hugely beneficial. 
  • Hearing aids can treat tinnitus as it is thought that, in many cases, the condition develops as a result of untreated hearing loss. The brain seeks to create noises to replace the sounds that are no longer heard due to underlying hearing loss. 
  • When hearing aids restore these lost sounds, tinnitus often becomes less intrusive or subsides completely. 
  • In addition, hearing aids can also be equipped with tinnitus masking features. These features emit sounds that are designed to make tinnitus sounds less noticeable; instead, tinnitus sounds just become part of standard background noise. 
  • The combination of amplification to treat hearing loss (and thus preventing the brain from needing to create additional tinnitus sounds) and tinnitus masking can help to manage tinnitus effectively. 

Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) 

  • TRT can be described as a holistic tinnitus treatment that seeks to both treat the ongoing disturbances caused by tinnitus while also working to manage the emotional side-effects, such as anxiety, stress or depression, that the condition can also cause.
  • Tinnitus masking is used to make intrusive sounds less noticeable, but in addition to this, therapeutic treatments are also explored. 
  • People undergoing TRT are taught stress management exercises, anxiety control, and other techniques that can help make tinnitus easier to live with. 
  • TRT is designed to habituate sounds completely. The brain is trained to consider these sounds as completely standard, unimportant, and therefore not worth noticing or responding to. 
  • The length of treatment tends to vary between individuals and their particular circumstances; in some cases, treatment may take 12 months or more. 

Sound machines

  • Sound machines play sounds that are designed to distract attention from tinnitus sounds. 
  • The idea is to make tinnitus sounds less noticeable so that they essentially fade in amongst the background noise. 
  • The effect is usually temporary; when a person ceases using the sound machine, their tinnitus sounds usually become noticeable again within a short space of time.
  • Sound machines will usually emit white or pink noise in order to mask tinnitus sounds.
  • Other sounds – such as the sound of a thunderstorm or a rainforest – can also be used to perform the same masking function.
  • Sound machines are particularly useful for times when wearing hearing aids may not be possible, such as when attempting to sleep at night. 

All of the options above can offer relief to individuals who are experiencing tinnitus. When it comes to deciding which may be most suitable for you, it is always preferable to arrange an appointment with your hearing health professional to discuss the matter in greater depth.