How is tinnitus treated?

Tinnitus is not an independent disease for which there is a special treatment. Rather, ear noises are an indication of very different disorders or diseases. Treatment for tinnitus therefore targets the underlying cause. But there are also therapeutic measures to alleviate the tinnitus itself.

Relatively easy to treat: acute tinnitus

When treating ear noises, it is important to distinguish between acute and chronic complaints. Chronic tinnitus is referred to as having a duration of three months. Until then, tinnitus is considered to be acute and can - of course always depending on the cause - be treated in a similar way to hearing loss. For example, infusion therapies are used to improve blood flow. Cortisone preparations are also used.

If the underlying cause is known, the treatment will be adjusted accordingly. In the simplest case, a plug of too much earwax can be unmasked and removed as an offender. A middle ear infection can be treated with antibiotics. But other diseases that can hide behind a tinnitus, such as a high blood pressure or even a dental problem can be resolved.

Challenge chronic tinnitus

It gets more difficult with the chronic form. Here, the ear noise has already solidified and often already followed by complications. The treatment is much more difficult and complex.

It is usually not about a complete cure, but about strategies in dealing with the annoying companion in the ear. The aim is to use certain techniques to achieve a certain habituation and to keep the tinnitus in check.

Overall, the study situation for the treatment of chronic tinnitus is extremely thin and unsatisfactory. There is therefore in the relevant guideline of the German Society of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery e. V. barely concrete recommendations for a particular treatment.

Above all, drugs have shown no effect in the long-term course. Also, a so-called hyperbaric oxygen therapy, as it is partially used in hearing loss to improve the oxygen supply to the inner ear, has not been proven.

Many approaches, little success

Individual therapeutic measures provide relief to some sufferers. Thus, for example, a general hearing perception training reduced the tinnitus exposure of some participants in one study. Targeted exercises for directional hearing, frequency discrimination or overhearing of the ear noise also helped some sufferers. However, on the basis of the few studies, such measures can not be recommended.

Even so-called Rauscher or Noiser, so certain devices that produce a pleasant low noise and distract from annoying tinnitus come at best supportive use. Electromagnetic stimulation methods, which stimulate certain areas of the brain with a magnetic probe from the outside, have shown short-term success, but need further investigation in further studies. Even acoustic measures such as music therapy can be individually effective. But again, the results are not enough for a general recommendation.

Give yourself the tone!

So what helps with ear noise? The basis for the treatment is the so-called tinnitus counseling. This refers to a detailed medical education about the complaints and their background, combined with an individual consultation for the individual concerned.

That may sound a bit spectacular and may disappoint you. However, it has been proven that these simple measures can do much and initiate much better than the therapies mentioned above.

In addition to the basic therapy, an accompanying behavioral therapy shows the best efficacy. Patients here, in individual sessions or in groups, together with other people suffering from tinnitus, acquire strategies for less attention to the ear noises. In addition, they learn to evaluate the annoying beeping and noise differently than to perceive less threatening and better to cope.

Because this is exactly what the treatment is all about: learning not to fight desperately against tinnitus again and again. Rather, acceptance and serenity help a lot better, not to be disturbed by the ear noises in the long term.

Author: Eva Bauer (doctor)