Can tinnitus be cured?
Written by Francis L’Africain,
No… But there are many solutions available to you!
To this day, there is unfortunately no cure for tinnitus and to make it disappear completely. * Since there is no magic pill, a variety of strategies must be used to learn how to live with tinnitus and “put it aside.” In other words, the goal is that tinnitus no longer prevents you from going about your daily activities even though it is still present.
Let’s use the analogy: You work in an office in front of a window that leads directly to a railway track. A train passes. When you start to hear the locomotive and the first cars, the noise is so loud that it prevents you from concentrating. You can no longer work. The noise of the train takes up all the space in your mind. However, about 15 cars later, you can concentrate very well on your work. The sound of the train is still loud, but you’ve gotten used to it.
* Some tinnitus is caused by the presence of impacted cerumen (ear wax), shoulder, neck or jaw pain (somatosensory tinnitus), blood circulation problems or side effects when taking certain medications. For these types of tinnitus, adequate management could make it disappear completely. It is therefore preferable that you consult a health care professional to carefully assess your symptoms.
What are the solutions?
Several strategies can be used to gradually get used to your tinnitus.
1. Sound enrichment, sound therapy, and hearing aids
Sound enrichment is adding noise to your environment to camouflage tinnitus. This allows your brain to focus on something else, helping you relax and concentrate.
- Sound enrichment
A fan, a low-volume radio or television, soft music, etc.
- Hearing aids
If you have a hearing loss, hearing aids can help. These allow you to hear certain sounds again and thus help you to focus your attention on something other than your tinnitus.
- Sound therapy
Noise generators can also be used to camouflage tinnitus with another sound. This sound is customized according to the «dominant» frequency of your tinnitus and the intensity of the sound is just below the intensity of your tinnitus. These generators can be worn to the ears or as table speakers or hidden in the pillow. It is recommended to use them for a minimum of 6 hours per day.
2. Stress and sleep management
Stress and sleep can influence the perceived intensity of tinnitus. Indeed, the more stressed or tired you are, the more irritable you are. Anything, including tinnitus, becomes more disturbing. Because tinnitus is perceived to be stronger, you may have even more difficulty sleeping, be even more stressed and irritable, then perceive tinnitus even stronger and so on….
As much as possible, you should try to adopt good sleep and stress management habits.
- Exercises that can reduce stress and anxiety
For example, yoga, mindfulness meditation, relaxation (such as controlled breathing and progressive muscle relaxation), watching ASMR or doing any other activity that can help you relax and sleep.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy sessions can be taken with a psychologist to reduce the emotional load associated with tinnitus. The support offered by the professionals of the rehabilitation centres can also help you.
- Temporary medication
If the stress caused by tinnitus is very intense, the use of anxiolytic and/or antidepressant may be recommended by a doctor temporarily at the beginning of the procedure. Similarly, sleeping pills can sometimes be prescribed if the lack of sleep is significant.
- Tips for improving sleep quality
Better sleep helps to manage stress better. There are tips to improve sleep quality. For example, going to bed and getting up at the same time, doing physical activity in the morning or early afternoon, avoiding large amounts of alcohol, food, or caffeine before going to bed, sleep in a cooler place, etc.
Small note on alternative treatments
Several alternative treatments are available on the market. However, not all treatments are supported by science (e.g., acupuncture, naturopathy, dietary supplements). Remember that it is impossible to eliminate tinnitus and beware of products that sell you the dream of healing!
Do you have tinnitus? Make an appointment with an audiologist from the ODYO team!