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Can Tinnitus Be Cured?

By Keith Darrow June 29, 2022 Health and Fitness

As someone who has studied the brain for over 20 years, I’m happy to give you the most straightforward answer I can to the question, “Can tinnitus be cured?”

The answer is a resounding… MAYBE!

I know you want to hear me say yes! But what if I told you that there was an 80% chance that your tinnitus could be treated and that you could live with less tinnitus (perhaps you might even be able to live a ‘ring-free’ life)?

Hopeless or Not?

I wish more than anything that tinnitus (ringing in the ears) was a curable medical condition; but, like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and so many other ailments that plague us as we age, tinnitus is treatable and manageable. Most patients that come to see me say, “But my doctor told me there is nothing that can be done about the sounds in my ears,” and sometimes I wish I had kinder words, but often I blurt out “Hogwash!”

With a professional treatment plan, you can effectively reduce (sometimes eliminate) the ringing. These are extraordinary odds for such a devastating and misunderstood condition. This means less noise while you sleep, less noise when you work, less noise when you focus, less noise when spending time with others and less noise while living a more fulfilling life.

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus comes in many shapes and sizes. In fact, few can agree on exactly how to pronounce it; for some it is pronounced tin-night-us and others it is tin-knit-us. Some patients will report hearing ringing, some hear buzzing, some hear chirping (like crickets), some hear whooshing (like the sound from a shell on the beach), and others hear sounds that ‘pulsate’.

While some people will say they hear these sounds in their ears, others report hearing the sounds ‘somewhere in the middle of their head’. Regardless of how you say it, what it sounds like or where you hear it, the devastating impact this condition has on a person’s life is real and undeniable.

Even those patients who only hear the ringing ‘sometimes’ know that as they age the disorder will progress and will eventually be heard all the time!

You might be surprised that 50 million Americans suffer with tinnitus, and it is estimated that the vast majority (over 90%!) of these cases are caused by damage to the auditory system. For some, tinnitus accompanies hearing loss. For others, tinnitus is the first sign of hearing loss – meaning that many patients will complain of tinnitus before ever noticing hearing loss.

In fact, I hear all too often, “Hey doc, my ears ring but I hear fine!” And I wish that were the case – I wish that there was some other reason for the ringing in the ears or head that had nothing to do with hearing.

But the truth is that tinnitus is your internal alarm telling you that your ears and auditory system are damaged – consider it an ‘early detection alarm’ and consider it your body’s way of telling you ‘something is wrong’.

How to Treat Tinnitus

The most straightforward answer is sometimes the hardest to find when seeking relief from tinnitus. If you suffer with tinnitus, you have undoubtedly heard about magic pills that eliminate the ringing. Perhaps you have been told by some to just deal with it and sleep with a fan on to ignore it. Even worse, you may have been told there is nothing that can be done for you!

The approach to treating tinnitus is very logical; if you activate the damaged nerves that connect the ear to the brain, the ‘central gain’ will decrease, ergo you will perceive less tinnitus.  

This direct treatment of tinnitus is both F.D.A. approved and effective in nearly 80% of patients. Recent reports that investigated the impact of treatment on sleep, concentration, work, and when hearing others in a conversation have all noted dramatic reductions of the impact of tinnitus on everyday life.

Once your hearing healthcare specialist has a full understanding of your tinnitus and has gone through the rigorous diagnostic process to determine the root cause, custom prescribed NeuroTechnology™ can be the best way to live a life free of the ringing that plagues you!

These advanced hearing aids are designed to treat the cognitive aspects of hearing loss, including tinnitus, by providing auditory stimulation to the ears and brain. By replacing the ‘broken’ neural system with correct (and targeted) sound stimulation, the brain may reduce its ‘central gain’ thereby reducing the experience of tinnitus.

These devices are also capable of adapting to your environment and are able to provide necessary stimulation patterns that can enhance sounds that replace the ringing.

Not Curable, But Treatable

What is important for every patient to understand is that tinnitus is not curable, and that treating tinnitus can take time. I can tell you from over 20 years of personal experience in treating patients with tinnitus that you may notice relief from tinnitus in 3 seconds – or it can take up to 18 months.

Although there is no exact science to understanding how long it will take to notice an improvement or why some patients notice relief faster than others, the general rule of thumb is: the longer you have had the tinnitus, the longer it may take to manage it, which is why early treatment is so important.

Now That I Am Treating My Tinnitus, What Else Can I Do?

Please note – the techniques being offered in this section are meant to enhance the effectiveness of treatment; not take the place of treatment.

Once you have started direct treatment of your tinnitus and are under the care of a hearing healthcare specialist, it is important to discuss both:

  • lifestyle factors that can trigger a relapse of tinnitus, and
  • additional care to further manage your tinnitus.

Avoiding Tinnitus Triggers

For many patients undergoing treatment, the ringing can be virtually undetectable until a certain ‘trigger’ ramps up the volume of the sound. Below is a list of the most common triggers patients report as influencing their tinnitus:

Loud Noise

This applies to everybody, even those without tinnitus — avoid loud sounds at all costs! The use of power tools, guns, motorcycles, noisy vacuum cleaners, and even a night out at a loud restaurant or banquet can trigger the ringing.

Fortunately, most technology used to treat tinnitus and hearing loss can filter out a portion of the background noise – but when necessary, hearing protection can go a long way to avoid the ringing!

Alcohol and Caffeine

Alcohol and caffeine (found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and some cola drinks) can also trigger tinnitus. Like most things in life, nothing is that bad for you in moderation; however, too much can have the adverse side effect of tinnitus. Caffeine, a nervous system stimulant, can easily ramp up neural activity and lead to the brain’s perception of sound.

Smoking

Nicotine has a direct effect on our vascular system and can influence blood flow to the ears – which can cause tinnitus.

Certain Medications

Aspirin, quinine, some antibiotics, and hundreds of other drugs are causative tinnitus agents and can make existing tinnitus worse.

Stress

Managing stress is certainly easier said than done for most of us, but that doesn’t take away the importance of learning how to manage and reduce stress which can lead to spikes in tinnitus.

Understanding how the mind works and learning to find inner peace can only yield all-around positive results!

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor to get specific medical advice for your situation. 

Have you experienced ringing in your ears? How often does it happen? Have you seen an audiologist? What treatment has helped you reduce your experience?

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The Author

Dr. Keith N. Darrow is the founder of Excellence In Audiology. He is a Neuroscientist, Clinical Audiologist and Certified Dementia Practitioner. Dr. Darrow is also a best-selling author, speaker and professor. He is passionate about helping adults prevent decline, actively age and reduce the risks associated with hearing loss. Dr. Darrow can be contacted at keith@excellenceinaudiology.org.

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