There are several treatments that can help people cope with their tinnitus, including:
Tinnitus often affects the patient’s emotional wellbeing, hearing, sleep, and concentration abilities. Strategies for these four areas are discussed in detail.
Most patients report that the presence of background noise or music is helpful.
These sounds can:
- Partially mask the tinnitus, when background sound mixes with the tinnitus, but the patient is still able to hear the tinnitus
- Totally mask the tinnitus, when background sound covers up the tinnitus completely
- Reduce its loudness (while still hearing the tinnitus)
- Distract the patient from attending to the tinnitus
The types of sounds often used in sound therapy include:
- Broadband noise (heard as “sssshhhh”). Many patients report that it is easier to listen to the noise of a “ssssshhhh” sound than it is to listen to their tinnitus.
- Music, usually soft, light, background music (e.g., classical baroque, simple piano music)
- Sound produced particularly for relaxation or distraction (e.g., waves lapping against the shore, raindrops falling on leaves—sometimes these are combined with light music)
There are several different devices that produce these sounds:
- Wearable devices that resemble hearing aids
- Wearable devices with earphones or insert earphones (portable cassette or CD players)
- Non-wearable devices that include radios, tape players, compact disc players or sound generators specifically produced for relaxation or tinnitus. Some are meant to be used at the bedside with timers and can include many different sound types.
- Sound therapy does not have to be used all the time. It is possible to obtain a noise generator and a hearing aid in the same wearable device.
Some patients with tinnitus also have a hearing loss and can benefit from a hearing aid. Better communication reduces stress, which could reduce tinnitus. Hearing aids also amplify background noise, and many tinnitus patients report that their tinnitus is better when they listen to low levels of background noise.
- Cognitive Behavior Modification
- This approach helps you to talk about tinnitus in a reasonable fashion, and to plan and carry out trials to change the way you think about tinnitus and react to it.
- Relaxation Therapy
- There are many relaxation techniques, for example using recorded soft music or biofeedback, which can help patients relax when they are particularly bothered by their tinnitus.
Although medications generally do not cure tinnitus, they can be helpful in reducing stress and in getting to sleep.