Tinnitus, or phantom ringing noises in the ear, might appear as a mild annoyance that is easy to overlook. However, when left unaddressed, it is possible for tinnitus to worsen and interfere with your daily life and interpersonal relationships. Indeed, the ringing can become so loud and prominent to cause psychological and social issues, making it difficult to listen, concentrate or sleep. 

However, tinnitus is not considered to be a disease in itself but rather a symptom of another underlying condition, which can stem from environmental, medical or lifestyle factors. When looking for the right treatment for your tinnitus, it is always recommendable to speak to an audiologist.

These trained audiologists can help you identify and address the underlying factors that are marking your tinnitus worse. Here are some of the tinnitus treatments available today. 

Hearing aids

Tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) are often associated. Indeed, both conditions can stem from the damage of the hair cells that line the ear canal and have the responsibility of passing important information to the brain. 

Hair cell damage can happen due to:

  • Age: As you age, it is possible for these cells to decline and become less functional
  • Trauma: A loud bang or explosion can cause irreversible damage to the hair cells
  • Prolonged exposure to loud noises: This is particularly common in construction workers, landscapers and musicians. 

If your tinnitus stems from age-related or noise-induced hearing loss, your audiologist might recommend a hearing aid with masking capabilities. Modern hearing aids have directional microphones and settings that allow you to minimize background noise and tinnitus to focus on important sounds such as conversations. 

Sound machines

White noise machines are devices that produce an overpowering white noise. This white noise can be the ocean waves, the wind blowing through trees or a bubbling brook. Certain home amenities such as fans and air conditioners might also produce white noises. 

If your tinnitus is more prevalent at nighttime, before you go to sleep or in quiet environments, it might be noticeable enough to prevent you from falling asleep or focusing on your work. In these cases, a sound machine can help you focus on these external, relaxing sounds rather than on the tinnitus. 

Retraining therapy

Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) is a counseling program delivered by an experienced audiologist. These programs are tailored to your specific needs and involve the use of a sound machine alongside one-to-one counseling. 

The aim of this treatment is to make tinnitus less noticeable but also overcome the psychological symptoms that it might cause. With time this treatment can help you minimize the symptoms of tinnitus by training your brain to ignore them in favor of important noises.

Lifestyle modifications

Certain medications such as aspirin and antibiotics can cause tinnitus. Additionally, cardiovascular issues, which are worsened by the use of alcohol and tobacco, can impair the blood flow to the ears. Your audiologist might recommend some lifestyle modifications to help you address the underlying cause of tinnitus, which could be a mix of drugs and cardiovascular issues. An audiologist will also address ear blockages, earwax accumulation and injuries.