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What Can I Do about Tinnitus?

If you find yourself asking those around you if they hear that humming or buzzing sound that’s bothering you, and they look at you quizzically, you may have tinnitus, known colloquially as a “ringing in your ear.” The most important thing to know about tinnitus is that it’s a symptom of some other problem; it only occurs as the result of an underlying ear condition.

Often tinnitus is temporary and goes away on its own in a few minutes or hours depending on the cause. But when it’s severe, prolonged, and interferes with your life, it’s time to call us at Petoskey Ear, Nose, & Throat Specialists. Drs. Melissa Somers and Marc Feeley specialize in detecting the source of your tinnitus and relieving your symptoms by treating the underlying cause of the problem, such as infection, injury, lodged foreign objects, or hearing loss. If you have tinnitus, here are five things you can do about it.

1. Seek medical attention

There are things you can do at home to help relieve your tinnitus symptoms. However, because some of the causes for tinnitus are potentially serious, at-home remedies may not properly address the underlying condition and may make things worse. 

The best place to start is to come see Dr. Somers or Dr. Feeley to get a proper diagnosis. You may need a professional ear cleaning or medication to treat the primary source of your tinnitus. Some of the conditions that may be your tinnitus culprit include:

Those are just a few of the reasons you could be experiencing tinnitus, and they each call for diagnosis and treatment by a physician. Treatment of the underlying problem often clears up the tinnitus symptoms.

If you have a condition that is untreatable or the treatment doesn’t alleviate your tinnitus, there are few things you can do at home to help mitigate those annoying phantom sounds.

2. Play white noise to drown the sound

White noise gets its name from the concept of white light, which combines all different wavelengths of visible light to create a white output. Similarly, white noise is a combination of many different frequencies blended together. When it’s loud, we call it static, but when it’s soft, it soothes, comforts, and even covers up the sounds of your tinnitus.

You can fill your room with white noise by using a special machine that plays the gentle sounds. Some are unrecognizable tones and others mimic the sounds of nature, such as ocean waves or falling rain. There are even apps available for smartphones and tablets to help you drown out your tinnitus on the go.

3. Wear hearing aids

Most often, tinnitus is associated with some degree of hearing loss. You may have worked in a loud environment that impacted your hearing over the years. Maybe you were in an accident that involved a blow to your ear or head. Or perhaps advanced age has made you hard of hearing. Whatever the cause, you likely have tinnitus as well.

Hearing aids can help. By changing the way you receive and perceive sounds outside your body, hearing aids can cover the sounds of tinnitus and help you hear better.

4. Mask the sound

Similar to a hearing aid, a noise masker is worn in the ear, but it doesn’t amplify sound like a hearing aid does. Instead, it generates a steady stream of white noise that covers up the ringing, clicking, and buzzing.

Think of this as a full-time white noise machine that hides in your ear. If you find that white noise helps you in the form of an app or machine, you may find all-day relief from this in-ear option.

5. Go for sound therapy

Sound therapy may include the use of white noise, but it goes beyond that. Like white noise, this therapy uses external sounds to change the way you perceive and react to your tinnitus, but it’s customized to your unique set of symptoms and medical conditions.

In addition to white noise, sound therapy may use:

Whatever the source of your tinnitus, there are ways you can manage the annoying sounds so that your condition is tolerable, and in some cases, you may be able to eliminate the problem completely. Call us today or book an appointment online to find out what’s causing your tinnitus and what you can do about it.

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