Tinnitus is hearing a humming, ringing, buzzing, or other sounds in the ears or head. There are many causes of tinnitus that may include exposure to loud noise, head injury, medicines, ear wax – and many other causes. For many people it is impossible to know the exact cause of tinnitus.
There are labs around the world looking for a cure, but there isn't a cure yet. However, there are many ways to feel better without making tinnitus quieter.
You can feel better by learning how to change your reactions to tinnitus – or by learning to manage your reactions to tinnitus. You can use sound to make life with tinnitus more comfortable and pleasant. Soothing sound can help you feel better without making your tinnitus quieter. Interesting or entertaining sounds can help get your mind off your tinnitus.
Background sounds make it easier to ignore your tinnitus. You can learn to make a plan for using sound to help you anytime tinnitus is a problem. Learning how to relax when you want to can help you feel better.
You can plan pleasant activities even when your tinnitus is bothering you. Pleasant activities can help you enjoy life and help you get your mind off your tinnitus.
What you think affects how you feel. You can change how you think about your tinnitus from "there's no hope for my tinnitus" to thoughts like ''I'm learning new ways to feel better without making my tinnitus quieter." With practice, changing your thoughts and attitudes can help you feel better. Ask your audiologist where to get help coming up with new ways to think about your tinnitus.
What should I do about my tinnitus?
Start by getting a hearing test and hearing aids, if needed. Hearing aids can help with a hearing problem by amplifying sounds. Amplifying sounds can also help with tinnitus. Most people say that they notice their tinnitus less when they are wearing hearing aids.
What if I need more help?
If you need more help, contact your hearing healthcare provider. Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) audiologists are trained to help you with your tinnitus. Progressive Tinnitus Management (PTM) was developed by VA and is used by DoD and VA. PTM teaches how to use sound to cope with tinnitus.
PTM also teaches how to change your thoughts and feelings to cope with tinnitus. Your audiologist can provide you with PTM materials, and can help you learn how to use them.
For more information
National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research (NCRAR)
Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence