Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Help for Tinnitus

Friday, 13 April 2012 08:51 AM

Question: Is there a cure for tinnitus? I am a man of 58 and have had ringing in my ears for more than a year.

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:
First of all, you need to see your doctor, who will begin by identifying any underlying, treatable condition that may be associated with your symptoms. If tinnitus is due to a health condition, your doctor may be able to take steps that could reduce the noise. Sometimes removing impacted earwax can decrease tinnitus symptoms. Underlying vascular conditions may require medication, surgery, or another treatment. If one of your medications appears to be the cause of tinnitus, your doctor may recommend stopping or reducing it, or switching to a different drug.
If no cause is found, electronic devices are available that suppress the annoying noise. White noise machines which produce simulated sounds such as falling rain or ocean waves can suppress the symptoms of tinnitus. You may want to try a white noise machine with pillow speakers to help you sleep. Certain other masking devices, similar to hearing aids, will produce a continuous, low-level white noise that suppresses tinnitus. Some devices can even deliver soothing music to mask your tinnitus. Hearing aids have been found helpful when you have hearing problems in addition to tinnitus. As much as possible, reduce your exposure to things that may make your tinnitus worse. Common examples include loud noises and smoking. Cover up the noise by playing soft music, stop smoking, avoid stress, and reduce your alcohol intake.

Your doctor may also suggest medications which may not cure the tinnitus, but help reduce symptoms. These medications include tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline and nortriptyline for severe tinnitus, but they can cause troublesome side effects, including dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, and heart problems. Alprazolam (Niravam, Xanax) may help reduce tinnitus symptoms, but side effects can include drowsiness and nausea. Also, be aware that alprazolam can become habit-forming.

© HealthDay

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