If you or a loved one is suffering from tinnitus, a constant ringing, buzzing or clicking sound in one or both ears, you are not alone; millions of Americans are affected by this frustrating condition.
A history of exposure to loud noise or music can often be the cause of tinnitus but in some cases an ear infection, ear wax buildup, a punctured eardrum, high blood pressure, Lyme disease or a hardening of the arteries could be the underlying condition which is causing the ringing.
Some drugs and supplements are also associated with tinnitus. It is important to talk with your doctor if you are experiencing a ringing in the ear or ears, which can often be the first sign of hearing loss.
While there is not yet a cure for tinnitus, research is learning more about the condition and experimental treatments such as electromagnetic brain stimulation and deep brain stimulation are finding some success but require more study and larger trials to be fully validated.
A new study, published in the January 2017 JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery Journal, investigated cognitive training programs to preserve and improve brain health in adults with tinnitus. Researchers found an improvement in memory, attention and concentration in patients with tinnitus after an 8 week period using interacting training exercises. The research offers promise for treating tinnitus which, besides being maddening, can result in a poorer working memory, slower processing speed and reaction times as well as difficulty focusing and maintaining attention.
Current Treatment Options
- Seek medical treatment to rule out infection, ear wax or other conditions or drug side effects that may cause tinnitus
- Constant ringing in the ears can be stressful; consider counseling to manage stress
- Sound therapy is often used to help mask tinnitus with “white noise” and is especially useful in a quiet room, for example, when trying to fall asleep at night
- A hearing aid may help amplify background sound making ringing less noticeable
- Avoid foods that may worsen tinnitus; red wine, cheese, chocolate and caffeine can set off the ringing.
- Eat a healthy diet rich in leafy greens, nuts, seeds, olive oil, fruit and fish
- Limit red meat, processed foods, saturated fats, salt and refined sugar
To learn more about research, treatment and facts about tinnitus, visit the American Tinnitus Association website by following this link.