Tinnitus: Remedies to Treat Ringing in Your Ears (2022)

Tinnitus is known for the ringing, clicking, buzzing, or hissing sounds you might experience. However, it isn’t really a disease itself, but rather a symptom of a problem somewhere in your ear or the nerves that run through it.

About 10 percent of people in the United States experience tinnitus each year, even if just for a few minutes. Sounds can show up in one ear or the other, and they can be loud or soft.

People with severe tinnitus may have problems hearing, working, or even sleeping.

Tinnitus that lasts for just a few seconds isn’t necessarily unusual. Something as simple as a blockage can create these sounds, but more serious conditions can also be the cause.

These include:

  • hearing loss caused by noise levels
  • ear infections
  • sinus infections
  • heart disease
  • diseases of the circulatory system
  • brain tumors
  • hormonal changes
  • Meniere’s disease
  • thyroid disease

Finding out what’s causing your tinnitus is the first step in treating it. A doctor can determine if there’s an underlying cause, and then address that issue through medications or surgery.

A large percentage of people won’t have an identifiable cause. This is referred to as “idiopathic tinnitus.” While there’s no cure for idiopathic tinnitus, there are remedies that can help reduce its intensity.

This article will explore a variety of remedies from sound-based therapies to lifestyle changes that can help you manage tinnitus and improve your quality of life.

One way to tackle tinnitus is to treat the underlying cause, primarily when that cause is hearing loss. When hearing loss isn’t the issue, sounds-based therapies can still help by distracting you from the symptom itself.

Hearing aids

Most people develop tinnitus as a symptom of hearing loss. When you lose hearing, your brain undergoes changes in the way it processes sounds.

A hearing aid is a small device that uses a microphone, amplifier, and speaker to increase the volume of external noises. This can help the brain learn new ways to process sound.

If you have tinnitus, you may find that the better you hear, the less you notice your tinnitus.

One survey of 230 healthcare professionals found that about 60 percent of people with tinnitus experienced at least some improvement with a hearing aid, and roughly 22 percent found significant relief.

Sound-masking devices

Sound-masking devices provide a pleasant external noise that can help drown out the internal sound of tinnitus. There are many of these types of devices available, from tabletop sound machines to small devices that are placed in your ear.

These machines can play:

  • white noise
  • pink noise
  • nature noises
  • music
  • other ambient sounds

Most people prefer a level of external sound that is just slightly louder than their tinnitus, but others prefer a masking sound that drowns out the ringing completely.

(Video) Easy Tinnitus Treatment - Ask Doctor Jo

You may also consider using commercial sound machines designed to help you relax or fall asleep. You can even use:

  • regular headphones
  • a television
  • music
  • a fan

However, not all noises are created equal when it comes to sound-masking. A 2017 study found that broadband noises like white noise are usually more effective than nature sounds.

Modified or customized sound machines

Sound-masking devices help to cover the sound of tinnitus while you’re using them, but they have no long lasting effects.

Modern medical-grade devices can be used to create customized sounds tailored specifically to your tinnitus. Unlike regular sound machines, these devices are only worn occasionally.

You might be able to experience benefits after the device is turned off. Over time, you may notice long-term improvement in the loudness of your tinnitus.

In 2017, researchers found that these devices were usually more effective than things like white noise at reducing tinnitus symptoms. However, these devices can be costly and are often not covered by insurance.

Sometimes when there is no cure, treatment involves acceptance and finding a way to live with certain conditions. This is true of tinnitus, too.

There are therapies that are designed not to cure tinnitus, but to help reduce the distress and annoyance it may be causing you.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Tinnitus is associated with a high level of emotional stress. Depression, anxiety, and insomnia are not unusual in people with tinnitus.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that helps people with tinnitus learn to live with the condition. Rather than reducing the sound itself, CBT teaches you how to accept it.

The goal is to improve your quality of life and prevent tinnitus from being your focus.

CBT involves working with a therapist or counselor, usually once a week, to identify and change negative thought patterns.

CBT was initially developed as a treatment for depression and other psychological problems, but it seems to work well for people with tinnitus.

Several reviews of studies, including one published in the Korean Journal of Audiology, have found that CBT significantly improves irritation and annoyance that often comes with tinnitus.

Progressive tinnitus management

Progressive tinnitus management (PTM) is a therapeutic treatment program that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers.

Tinnitus is one of the most common conditions seen in veterans of the armed services. The loud noises of war and training often lead to noise-induced hearing loss.

(Video) Ear Doctors React to Tinnitus Home Remedies

If you’re a veteran, talk with your local VA hospital about their tinnitus treatment programs. Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) is another therapy you can ask about that may be helpful.

Consult the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research (NCRAR) at the VA. They have a step-by-step tinnitus workbook and other educational materials that you can look into.

There really aren’t any medications that can cure tinnitus directly, but different medications may be used to help make your symptoms more tolerable.

Anti-anxiety drugs

Tinnitus treatment often involves a combination of approaches. Your doctor may recommend medication as part of your treatment.

These drugs may help make your tinnitus symptoms less bothersome, thereby improving your quality of life. Anti-anxiety drugs like alprazolam (Xanax) can also help with insomnia that stems from your tinnitus symptoms.

Antidepressants

Antidepressants are a little different in the way they may help tinnitus symptoms because they actually may play a role in reducing the problem, not just your perception of it.

Neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry messages about sensations back to the brain from all over your body, and some of the same neurotransmitters that modify sound also play a role in depression.

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is one of the neurotransmitters that helps transmit sound signals.

Some antidepressants work by increasing serotonin, which in turn may suppress the effects of the GABA neurotransmitter and reduce tinnitus symptoms.

According to the American Tinnitus Association, antidepressants commonly used to treat tinnitus include:

  • clomipramine (Anafranil)
  • desipramine (Norpramin)
  • imipramine (Tofranil)
  • nortriptyline (Pamelor)
  • protriptyline (Vivactil)

There are some behaviors that may help reduce your tinnitus symptoms, including reducing your stress or changing the way you eat. The section below explores some lifestyle changes that can help reduce tinnitus.

Treating dysfunctions and obstructions

According to the American Tinnitus Association, most cases of tinnitus are caused by hearing loss. Occasionally though, tinnitus is caused by an irritation to the auditory system.

Tinnitus can sometimes be a symptom of a problem with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). If your tinnitus is caused by TMJ disorder, then a dental procedure or realignment of your bite may alleviate the problem.

(Video) How to remove Tinnitus ringing from the brain

There are also nonprocedural TMJ disorder treatments that you can ask your doctor or dentist about.

Tinnitus can also be a sign of excess earwax. Removal of an earwax blockage may be enough to make mild cases of tinnitus disappear.

Foreign objects lodged against the eardrum can also cause tinnitus. A regular practitioner can check for obstructions in the ear canal, but if you’re experiencing tinnitus, it may be best to see an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist.

Exercise

Exercise can have a big impact on your overall health and well-being. Tinnitus can be aggravated by:

  • stress
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • lack of sleep
  • illness

Because of this, regular exercise might help. One small study of people with chronic tinnitus found that yoga reduced stress and symptoms of tinnitus.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction

Mindfulness is increasingly being credited for its health benefits and was first used to treat chronic pain.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) courses help people develop skills to control their attention and draw focus away from uncomfortable feelings. It may be useful in treating tinnitus.

One study found that people who participated in an 8-week program designed specifically for tinnitus reported a significant improvement in their symptoms.

DIY mindfulness meditation

If you don’t have time to commit to an 8-week program, you can purchase a copy of the book “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zinn, or see if it’s available at your local library.

Kabat-Zinn’s book is a manual for practicing meditation and breathing techniques and can help encourage daily mindfulness.

There are several alternative or complementary tinnitus treatment options, including:

  • nutritional supplements
  • homeopathic remedies
  • acupuncture
  • hypnosis

None of these treatment options are supported by scientific studies. Many people are convinced that the herb ginkgo biloba is helpful, but large-scale studies have been unable to prove this.

There are many nutritional supplements claiming to be tinnitus remedies. These are usually a combination of herbs and vitamins, often including zinc, ginkgo, and vitamin B-12.

These dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not supported by scientific research. However, anecdotal reports suggest that they may help some people.

How is tinnitus diagnosed?

(Video) How to STOP Tinnitus (Ringing in the Ears) in 30 SECONDS with This Technique – Dr. Berg

If you think you have tinnitus, make an appointment with a primary care doctor. They will begin an examination by asking you about your personal and family medical history, as well as your lifestyle and any medications you are taking.

Be sure to mention what kind of work you do — especially if you are exposed to loud noises — and any injuries you may have had.

The appointment will continue with an examination of your head, neck, and ears. Your doctor may also perform some basic hearing and movement tests. At this point, your doctor may order additional tests or refer you to an audiologist.

Some of the tests that may be used to pinpoint the cause of your tinnitus include:

  • full auditory testing
  • imaging studies like a CT or MRI
  • blood work to check things like your thyroid levels

A proper diagnosis can help your doctor guide your treatment for tinnitus, although testing may be needed if another underlying condition is causing the symptom.

Tinnitus is rarely a sign of a serious medical condition. Talk with a doctor if you’re unable to sleep, work, or hear normally.

You should go to your local emergency department if you’re experiencing:

  • facial paralysis
  • sudden hearing loss
  • foul-smelling discharge from your ear
  • a pulsating sound in sync with your heartbeat

Tinnitus may be distressing for some people. If you or someone you love is thinking about suicide, you should go to the emergency room right away.

Tinnitus can be a frustrating condition. There’s no simple explanation for it and there’s no simple cure, unless there’s an underlying treatable cause.

But there are ways to reduce the intensity of the symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Talk with a doctor to make sure there are no underlying conditions causing your tinnitus and to discuss treatment options that might relieve your symptoms.

FAQs

What helps tinnitus and fight ringing in ears? ›

If tinnitus is especially noticeable in quiet settings, try using a white noise machine to mask the noise from tinnitus. If you don't have a white noise machine, a fan, soft music or low-volume radio static also may help. Limit alcohol, caffeine and nicotine.

What helps ringing in the ears naturally? ›

Place your index fingers on top of you middle fingers and snap them (the index fingers) onto the skull making a loud, drumming noise. Repeat 40-50 times. Some people experience immediate relief with this method. Repeat several times a day for as long as necessary to reduce tinnitus.”

Is there a cure for tinnitus 2022? ›

Currently, there is no cure for tinnitus. In other words, there is treatment but no scientifically-proven approach to completely eliminate tinnitus. However, tinnitus can be improved for many individuals if the treatments are sensibly selected and properly carried out.

What is the main cause of tinnitus? ›

Tinnitus is usually caused by an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, an ear injury or a problem with the circulatory system. For many people, tinnitus improves with treatment of the underlying cause or with other treatments that reduce or mask the noise, making tinnitus less noticeable.

Does drinking water help tinnitus? ›

Anything you eat, drink, or do, that upsets the fluid level in the body can upset the fluid level in the ear and cause tinnitus. Keeping a moderate intake of caffeine, salt, and alcohol. Reducing your use of tobacco. And staying hydrated by drinking water will help reduce the impact of tinnitus.

Do ear drops for tinnitus work? ›

If your tinnitus is caused by an underlying health condition, treating the condition will help stop or reduce the sounds you hear. For example, if your tinnitus is caused by an earwax build-up, eardrops or ear irrigation may be used.

What does it mean when my ears won't stop ringing? ›

Causes of Tinnitus

Noise-induced hearing loss – This is the most common cause of tinnitus. Either a single intense event or long-term noise exposure such as factory or construction work, can damage hearing. With exposure to loud noise, hair cells in the inner ear become damaged or destroyed.

Is there a pill to stop tinnitus? ›

Medications for Tinnitus

For some, treatment with low doses of anti-anxiety drugs -- such as Valium or antidepressants such as Elavil -- help reduce tinnitus. The use of a steroid placed into the middle ear along with an anti-anxiety medicine called alprazolam has been shown to be effective for some people.

Does B12 help tinnitus? ›

A paired t-test showed that in Group A, patients with Vitamin B12 deficiency showed significant improvement in mean tinnitus severity index score and visual analog scale (VAS) after Vitamin B12 therapy.

Is tinnitus a brain disorder? ›

Tinnitus (pronounced tin-NY-tus or TIN-u-tus) is not a disease. It is a symptom that something is wrong in the auditory system, which includes the ear, the auditory nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain, and the parts of the brain that process sound.

What are the 2 types of tinnitus? ›

Types of Tinnitus
  • Subjective Tinnitus. Subjective tinnitus occurs if you are the only person who can hear the noise. ...
  • Objective Tinnitus. ...
  • Pulsatile Tinnitus.

What are the first signs of tinnitus? ›

What Are the Symptoms of Tinnitus? The symptoms of tinnitus include a noise in the ears, such as ringing, roaring, buzzing, hissing, or whistling; the noise may be intermittent or continuous. Most of the time, only the person who has tinnitus can hear it (subjective tinnitus).

Why is my tinnitus getting louder? ›

Sleep and stress

And, when stress levels go up tinnitus can seem louder. If you have not slept properly one night you might experience higher stress levels, and your tinnitus might seem louder than on a normal day. Not only that but sleeping properly also helps with our ability to handle stress.

Can tinnitus go away? ›

Tinnitus can't be cured. But tinnitus usually doesn't continue forever. There will be a large number of factors that will establish how long your tinnitus will stick around, including the primary cause of your tinnitus and your general hearing health.

Do ear drops for tinnitus work? ›

If your tinnitus is caused by an underlying health condition, treating the condition will help stop or reduce the sounds you hear. For example, if your tinnitus is caused by an earwax build-up, eardrops or ear irrigation may be used.

Why is my tinnitus getting louder? ›

Sleep and stress

And, when stress levels go up tinnitus can seem louder. If you have not slept properly one night you might experience higher stress levels, and your tinnitus might seem louder than on a normal day. Not only that but sleeping properly also helps with our ability to handle stress.

Is tinnitus curable? ›

There is no cure for tinnitus, but the underlying cause may be treatable. There are some things you can do to manage tinnitus: Work out what makes the tinnitus worse and avoid any triggers. Avoid silence — create background noise with the TV or radio.

Does drinking water help tinnitus? ›

Anything you eat, drink, or do, that upsets the fluid level in the body can upset the fluid level in the ear and cause tinnitus. Keeping a moderate intake of caffeine, salt, and alcohol. Reducing your use of tobacco. And staying hydrated by drinking water will help reduce the impact of tinnitus.

What happens if tinnitus goes untreated? ›

Like many other conditions that affect the hearing, tinnitus can also affect your quality of life. Many people who have tinnitus claim that they find it hard to think, sleep, concentrate, or enjoy silence. Untreated tinnitus can wreak even more havoc on your life, leading to irritability, insomnia, and even depression.

How long should Ringing in ears last? ›

In most cases, tinnitus will disappear within two days, usually lasting between 16 to 48 hours. In some cases, however, a person's hearing health history and other lifestyle factors can influence their experience of tinnitus. It could last as long as two weeks and be exacerbated by further exposure to loud noises.

What is the best vitamin for tinnitus? ›

Magnesium has been shown to relieve the severity of tinnitus symptoms. A healthy supply of magnesium also keeps the blood vessels relaxed, allowing adequate blood to flow throughout the body, including through the vessels in the inner ear.

What vitamin deficiency causes tinnitus? ›

[23] Vitamin B12 deficiency may cause the demyelination of neurons in the cochlear nerve, resulting in hearing loss and tinnitus.

Is there an over-the-counter medication for tinnitus? ›

There are a few over-the-counter (OTC) supplements sold for tinnitus. But none are FDA approved to treat this symptom. OTC pills for tinnitus may have one ingredient or a combination of vitamins and herbs. Common ingredients include ginkgo biloba, zinc, and vitamin B12.

How do you calm down tinnitus? ›

Retraining therapy: You can wear a device that masks ringing with tonal music, gradually training you to ignore the sound. This is usually linked with counseling. Relaxation techniques: Stress can make tinnitus worse. Find ways that help you manage anxiety like deep breathing, exercise, and biofeedback.

What foods make tinnitus worse? ›

While there are no foods that cause tinnitus, there may be a few that can make tinnitus louder or nearly unbearable for many sufferers, including:
  • Coffee. Many tinnitus sufferers have stopped drinking coffee at the suggestion of their doctors. ...
  • Salt. ...
  • Saturated fats. ...
  • Sugars. ...
  • Alcohol.

What medications make tinnitus worse? ›

The list includes antibiotics, antidepressants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), cancer drugs, diuretics, and high doses of aspirin. Usually the higher the dose, the greater your chance of problems. Often if you stop taking it, your symptoms will go away.

What are the first signs of tinnitus? ›

What Are the Symptoms of Tinnitus? The symptoms of tinnitus include a noise in the ears, such as ringing, roaring, buzzing, hissing, or whistling; the noise may be intermittent or continuous. Most of the time, only the person who has tinnitus can hear it (subjective tinnitus).

Can tinnitus make you go deaf? ›

Although severe tinnitus can interfere with your hearing, the condition does not cause hearing loss. Tinnitus is a symptom associated with many ear disorders. A common cause of tinnitus is inner ear damage. Tiny, delicate hairs in your inner ear move with the pressure of sound waves.

Does anxiety cause tinnitus? ›

Anxiety activates the fight or flight system, which puts a lot of pressure on nerves, and increases blood flow, body heat, and more. This pressure and stress are very likely to travel up into your inner ear and lead to the tinnitus experience.

Videos

1. Tinnitus Treatment Ringing in Ears Masking Sounds Pink Noise High pitch pink noise
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2. How to STOP Your TINNITUS With Your Hands | Dr. Mandell
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3. Ear Doctor Shares Tips for Tinnitus Relief
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4. How to Stop Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)? – Try Dr.Berg's Home Remedy to Get Rid of It
(Dr. Eric Berg DC)
5. How to Naturally Get Rid of Tinnitus | Dr Alan Mandell, DC
(motivationaldoc)
6. How to Treat Tinnitus & Ringing in the Ear PERMANENTLY!
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