Tinnitus is described by patients as ringing, crickets, roaring, or a clicking sound in the ear. It is an extremely frustrating symptom that patients struggle to manage.
Tinnitus can be caused by a variety of problems. Several questions may help your doctor better diagnose your problem.
- Is the tinnitus high or low pitched?
- Is the tinnitus constant or pulsatile?
- What makes it better or worse?
- Is it louder in quiet environments?
- Do you think you have hearing loss?
- Does it affect your concentration or ability to work?
- How loud is the tinnitus?
Sometimes, tinnitus can be caused by something as simple as wax on the eardrum. Other times, there can be a problem with the hearing nerve. Exposure to loud noises such as guns firing, rock concerts, and chain saws can create tinnitus. It is important to understand the cause before starting on a treatment plan.
Which diagnostic tests help in diagnosis?
- Tinnitus matching test
- MRI of the brain and internal auditory canals
- CT scan of the temporal bones
- Blood labs
- Balance testing
What are some treatment options?
Currently there is no ‘magic bullet’ for the treatment of tinnitus, as it can originate from multiple factors. It is important to speak with your otologist regarding physical exam and diagnostic tests to perform before pursuing the appropriate therapy for the type of tinnitus you may have.
Some options include:
Stress management is an important component of the care for tinnitus. Meditation, yoga, exercise, and even acupuncture have been proven to help with tinnitus. It has also been shown that antioxidants and vitamins can improve hearing and reduce tinnitus.
Control of Diet
This is the most effective and easiest first step in tinnitus management. It is important to watch out for common triggers that can make tinnitus worse than it already is. These triggers include:
- Coffee (caffeine)
- Tea (caffeine)
The most common cause of tinnitus is hearing loss. Therefore, it is not uncommon for the tinnitus to disappear once the patient is fitted with a proper hearing aid.
Tinnitus Matching and Retraining Therapy
This is performed through a variety of programs that match the frequency of your tinnitus and play it back to you during the day or at night to try and make your brain adapt to the tinnitus.
Medications and supplements
- Melatonin: Research shows that this over-the counter enzyme may relieve tinnitus, particularly for those with difficulty sleeping.
- N-Acetylcysteine (L-NAC)
- Arches Formula, Lipoflavonoids
A new compound known as “AM-101” is currently being investigated as an injection for patients who have developed tinnitus after traumatic noise exposure. More information regarding this can be provided for you during your consultation.