Most people experience tinnitus, or a ringing in one or both ears, at some time. If the problem is constant, however, it is very annoying and almost debilitating for some people. When tinnitus is at its worst, people cannot function properly. It is not clear why people get tinnitus. The American Tinnitus Association offers some educated guesses such as exposure to loud noises, wax build-up, medication side effects, an ear infection or a misaligned jaw. Unfortunately, there is no cure yet for tinnitus. However, there are measures you can take to minimize the ringing.
See your doctor. Because the causes of tinnitus vary from person to person, after an examination, your doctor may be better able to guide you into a treatment that could give you some relief. Ultimately, you will have to try the various treatments to see which works best for you.
Experiment with alternative treatments. Certain minerals like zinc, herbs like Ginkgo biloba or B vitamins help some people. Others experiment with hyperbaric oxygen, acupuncture or hypnosis. While there are no conclusive reports that any of these treatments work, they do work for some and are generally not harmful.
Wear an earplug or earmuff. Foam earplugs work the same way as putting your fingers in your ears. There are also high tech varieties available that use active noise reduction. These earmuffs process and cancel incoming sounds.
Get a hearing aid. Some tinnitus sufferers who have hearing loss get relief with a hearing aid.
Learn biofeedback. This relaxation technique will teach you how to control certain body functions and the way your body reacts to stress. Sometimes this helps with tinnitus.
Try drug therapy. While the American Tinnitus Association does not endorse any prescription drugs, some people find they work for them. Some medications people take for tinnitus are anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, antihistamines, anticonvulsants and anesthetics.
Try masking sound. Maskers vary from wearable types to table top varieties. The idea is the sound will cover the tinnitus. The ATA recommends if you try masking techniques, you also need to combine that with counseling.
Assess if you have TMJ. Jaw problems can cause tinnitus. See your dentist if you suspect TMJ is the cause of your tinnitus.