For anyone affected by tinnitus, ringing in the ears can constantly remind them of the discomfort and stress that living with this condition can bring. Medical treatment is a component of managing tinnitus, but there are some tactics anyone can use at home to help alleviate its adverse effects. As an audiologist, I found overall wellness to be an essential part of managing tinnitus effectively. From Tai Chi to white noise - read on to discover several strategies for managing tinnitus.
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What can I do about tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a frustrating and sometimes debilitating issue that affects millions of people worldwide. It can sound like a constant ringing or buzzing sound in the ears that won't go away. If you do experience tinnitus, you are certainly not alone. I've worked with many patients who have this condition, and I've seen first hand the difference lifestyle management can make on their symptoms.
Many people want to treat the condition on their own before seeking out professional help, and there are supportive strategies that you can try to do at home. Anyone can try these methods to mitigate its effects, from online resources to lifestyle modification but it may take some time to succeed. Remember, be kind and patient with yourself during this process.
The first step to managing tinnitus at home? Identify and eliminate any triggers that may exacerbate the symptoms. Common triggers to look out for include nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, and even certain medications. That being said, studies on dietary triggers are inconclusive when it comes to the impact of caffeine and alcohol consumption. However, individual sensitivities can vary; some people are more affected by certain foods or beverages than others. For example, a cup or two of coffee may provide an energy boost in the morning for the average person but for some, one cup may trigger unease and jitteriness.
If you find that any of these triggers are causing—or increasing—your symptoms, then it’s best to avoid them as much as possible.
In addition to avoiding known triggers, it’s essential to practice self-care for tinnitus management at home.
Self-care tactics can include:
- Getting deep, restful sleep each night
- Eating nutritious foods
- Taking regular breaks
- Engaging in relaxation-based and mindful activities such as Tai Chi, meditation, or yoga
For example, yoga has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, irritability, and even the perception of tinnitus severity. Even better, mindfulness-based interventions have been shown to provide temporary tinnitus relief and can make a big difference in an overall sense of well-being.
Next up, is exercise. Body movement is another excellent strategy to help improve overall health and can help manage tinnitus. Some fitness practices that can help assuage symptoms include walking, biking, or any physical activity you enjoy (aka, pilates, swimming, and so on). Incorporating daily movement into your routine is good for your mental and physical wellness, as it increases positive endorphins to boost your mood as well.
And, that’s not all—there’s another exercise to add to your regimen and it’s jam-packed with health benefits. Incorporate Tai Chi, a moving meditation that improves balance, coordination, and strength while potentially reducing tension associated with tinnitus symptoms. Tai Chi also has other health benefits, such as improving balance and increasing strength in addition to the mental and psychological benefits.
Experiencing more severe symptoms of tinnitus? It’s a good idea to book a consultation with a medical professional—like an ear specialist—to discuss potential treatments and potential symptom reduction. An exam from an ear specialist involves a thorough assessment of the ear, including examination under a microscope, and a comprehensive hearing evaluation. The specialist may discover ear wax impaction, which can worsen tinnitus perception and an ENT or audiologist can effectively manage wax.
But in many cases, tinnitus is related to underlying hearing loss. However, if tinnitus is accompanied by other symptoms such as dizziness, headache, fatigue, or other health changes, it is important to be evaluated by a medical professional. This might involve an evaluation for chronic illnesses like migraines, Lyme disease, or thyroid conditions that are suspected to be contributing factors in triggering tinnitus episodes.
For those who don’t want to pursue medical treatment but still want relief from tinnitus symptoms, masking is another method to consider. Masking involves using white noise machines or other sources of sound (music or ambient noise), which will help “mask” out the ringing noise—making it less intrusive and easier to blend in so that you can focus. Masking often works best when used alongside other methods such as trigger elimination and self-care, which should help reduce the severity of your symptoms over time. White noise machines can often be found relatively cheaply online and apps or Youtube videos can work well for masking noise options, too. One excellent option is the GN Resound Relief app, which is free to download.
Do pills, supplements, and acupuncture help?
There is currently no strong scientific evidence to support pills, supplements, or acupuncture as tinnitus treatments. For example, the American Academy of Otolaryngology does not recommend lipoflavonoids for tinnitus. Research remains inconclusive regarding the effectiveness of acupuncture, but some people have reported symptom relief with acupuncture treatments. It is important to remember that these methods should not be used in place of medical treatment and can often come with adverse risks or side effects.
While medical treatment is an option for tinnitus management, many things can be done from home to help manage it. Eliminating trigger factors (like caffeine or smoking), engaging in self-care practices (good sleep and healthy meals), and adding white noise machines or hearing aids—there's something out there for everyone looking for tinnitus relief. As with any new approach, it can take some time to see results. It's always best practice to seek advice from a doctor or specialist if your symptoms are more severe or causing too much discomfort.