Tinnitus is more common than most people think — 45 millions of Americans suffer from it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tinnitus, described as a ringing, buzzing, hissing or whooshing in the ear, can wreak havoc in the lives of those suffering from it. In fact, nearly one-third of those suffering from tinnitus find the constant noise so debilitating they seek medical attention for it.

What causes tinnitus?

The prolific nature of the disorder could be due to its many causes, which include: age-related hearing loss, exposure to loud noises, ear and sinus infections, Meniere’s disease, heart or blood vessel problems, brain tumors, thyroid problems, certain medicines or hormonal changes in women.

Unhealthy lifestyle choices and habits have also been linked to tinnitus. Researchers correlate drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, eating certain high fat and high sugar foods and consuming caffeinated beverages to tinnitus symptoms.

How to manage tinnitus

Unfortunately, there is no set cure for tinnitus. That’s because the malady can be caused by many other health conditions, as mentioned before. However, according to the American Tinnitus Association, there are many ways to help manage the symptoms of tinnitus. Management options include:

  • Hearing aids. Often times, tinnitus is associated with hearing loss. Treating the hearing loss with hearing aids usually eliminates the tinnitus.
  • Sound therapies. Incorporating white noise to counteract the perceived sounds associated with tinnitus can help those suffering from it reduce their reaction. Sound therapies won’t get rid of the tinnitus, but can help mask the perceived noise, helping to reduce the burden and intensity of the perceived sounds.
  • Behavioral therapies. Because tinnitus can create strong reactions and emotions, like anxiety, depression and anger, it is important for patients to learn how to work with and sit with their emotions. Behavioral therapies will focus on the patient’s emotional reaction to tinnitus and help establish positive approaches to tinnitus-related distress, anxiety and depression.
  • Drug therapies. Tinnitus is commonly associated with certain medications, known as ototoxic drugs. Replacing one medication with another that isn’t ototoxic can help reduce tinnitus symptoms. Additional medications can also help alleviate the ringing sounds.
  • TMJ treatments. If the tinnitus is associated with issues with the jaw, treatment of such conditions, including temporomandibular joint disorders, can often alleviate the tinnitus symptoms.

If you’re concerned you’re suffering from tinnitus, consult an audiologist in your area to find out what your treatment options are. While tinnitus isn’t life-threatening, it can be severely detrimental to your emotional and overall wellbeing, so seek the right audiologist to handle you condition today!