Tinnitus Treatments: A Comprehensive Review

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There are a broad spectrum of treatment methods currently recommended for people with tinnitus. From the clinically-backed to the metaphorical snake oil approaches, there is certainly no shortage of interventions intended to provide relief from tinnitus symptoms. The efficacy of different intervention methods depends largely on the underlying cause of an individual’s tinnitus. To help navigate the world of tinnitus treatments – with a special focus on those with a track record of some level of success – we have put together a comprehensive list, starting with the least effective and moving up toward the treatments with a history of success. 

Tinnitus Treatments: The Lower End of Effective

Not all tinnitus treatment methods are created equal, but even among the questionable treatments, there may be a small kernel of truth, or some usefulness in supporting overall health. Because the links between tinnitus and anxiety and depression are known and acknowledged, there is the possibility that supporting general health can support a lessening of symptoms.

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"Treble Health helped me turn down the sound of my tinnitus. Now I can breathe, and get on with my life!"
– Elisa
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The following interventions may fall under the banner of helpful, if not truly a long term resolution strategy. 

Lipo Flavonoids

An over-the-counter supplement, lipo flavonoids are said to have been linked to some possible easing of tinnitus symptoms. Derived from the phytonutrients found in fruit, this supplement claims to significantly reduce the phantom sounds associated with tinnitus. Despite the one study suggesting further research, most evaluations have been disappointing at best, without any real resolution of symptoms. Because there are no robust or large-scale studies evaluating the efficacy of lipo flavonoids, Treble Health does not recommend lipo flavonoid supplements as a form of intervention for tinnitus symptoms. 

Ear Drops

Person putting ear drops into their ears

Ear drops such as Cortexi or Zen Cortex have been suggested as a possible intervention for tinnitus, but these drops are not evaluated or recommended by hearing health professionals. Ear drops can help resolve issues such as an ear infection, if an infection is present and drops are prescribed by your physician, but as a treatment for tinnitus, ear drops are ineffective.  

Herbal Supplements and Oils

Herbal supplements and oils can be applied topically or internally, but most claim to aid tinnitus directly. There are some instances in which an herbal supplement or oil is useful, as might be the case when mineral oil is applied to ears with an abundance of wax, but as a whole, herbal supplements and oils do not have a history of efficacy, and should be avoided. 

Dr. Ben Thompson, AuD, reviews over 20 tinnitus treatments – from acupuncture, to tinnitus patches, to stem cell therapy.

Tinnitus 911

Falling under the “supplement” category, Tinnitus 911 is a targeted product that claims to directly support healing from tinnitus symptoms. The ingredients of this particular supplement are like many found in similar supplements, and primarily function as health-supporting ingredients, rather than a targeted ear health option. The nature of the product means it is not an effective treatment option, as it fails to address the root causes of tinnitus. 

Inner Ear Stem Cell Transplant

Inner ear stem cell transplant has gotten some press recently as a potential intervention for hearing loss and tinnitus. Some animal studies evaluating this intervention have shown promise, but the application of stem cell transplant remains an experimental procedure rather than one backed by thorough evidence, and is therefore not typically recommended as a reliable tinnitus treatment option. As more is learned about this process, recommendations may shift. 

Oxytocin Spray

Once an encouraged intervention, oxytocin spray has fallen out of favor as a preferred method of intervention for tinnitus symptoms. Initial research did look promising, but as more intensive research has failed to materialize, oxytocin spray has not retained its initial interest as a legitimate intervention. 

Mid-Level Interventions

Mid-level interventions are those that may demonstrate some efficacy in addressing tinnitus, but do not do so directly, or do not offer relief lasting or consistent enough to be considered a frontline treatment. These options are more likely to be suggested as possible supportive measures rather than the sole means of intervention. 

Acupuncture/Acupressure

Ear with acupuncture needle holes

Acupuncture and acupressure have both been suggested as possible interventions for tinnitus, and some results do suggest they offer some promise as a supportive technique. The source of this aid, however, is less in the form of targeting tinnitus itself, and comes about as an indirect source of help by lowering stress levels and improving general feelings of health and wellness. 

Tapping

Tapping has been used as both a tinnitus-specific intervention method and a stress-relief method, either of which can be useful in helping mask or ease some symptoms of tinnitus. Rather than being an evidence-based practice, however, tapping is used anecdotally, with practitioners suggesting that the tapping sound reverberates through the skull and into the bones in your ear, leading to successful, do-it-yourself masking. 

Dietary Changes

As is the case with acupressure and acupuncture, dietary changes have experienced some anecdotal support in improving overall health, and thereby supporting tinnitus symptoms. If dietary changes are enlisted, they would most likely need to be changes that include supporting greater health (see eating healthy, whole foods), and avoiding foods that trigger illness, inflammation, and other sources of pain and discomfort in the body, potentially including items like caffeine. Keto diets and fasting have also been suggested, but any severe dietary changes should be thoroughly discussed with a health professional. 

Ear Plugs

Person with a green foam earplug in their ear

Although ear plugs have been useful for preventing damage to the ears, they offer limited relief from actual tinnitus symptoms, because they fail to address the more substantial causes of tinnitus. Ear plugs are included in the mid-level intervention, for their ability to further discourage damage to the auditory system when loud noises are present, but are not a long-term or substantial intervention to offer freedom from or management of tinnitus ringing or buzzing. 

Mindfulness

Although mindfulness does not directly relate to tinnitus, it can indirectly support lessening of symptoms or easing tinnitus distress by improving mental health and even nervous system dysregulation, both of which can help soften the sounds of tinnitus. 

Biofeedback

Biofeedback is a process involving observing and recognizing physiological responses to stress, which in turn allows participants to learn how to develop healthier coping mechanisms within the body to respond to stress and other upsets to the nervous system. As a stress mitigation tool, biofeedback can be useful for people with tinnitus, but it is not currently recommended as a targeted treatment option. Further research is needed to determine its efficacy in addressing tinnitus. 

Mental Health Prescriptions

People with tinnitus are often not strangers to mental health maladies, and prescriptions to support mental health can indirectly support tinnitus resolution or symptom reduction by reducing the symptoms of anxiety and psychological distress. However, it should be noted that some of these medications list tinnitus as a potential side effect, so if you notice a change or spike in your existing tinnitus symptoms please speak with your health care provider about a potential change in dosage or medication.  

Michigan Tinnitus Device

This is listed in the mid-level range, because although it does show immense promise, it is an emerging therapy, and has not yet proven its efficacy in addressing tinnitus. Using the Michigan Tinnitus Device, a product relying on bisensory stimulation, 60% of study participants reported significant decreases to their symptoms. The device has not received all of the FDA approvals necessary to be an option for tinnitus treatment, but does show promise, and tinnitus patients can keep an eye on the device as studies increase and more information is gathered. 

Effective Treatments for Tinnitus 

Effective tinnitus treatment is selected through a blend of research, successful practice at Treble Health with our audiologists, and testimonials. Each of the following modalities has a proven track record of helping people with tinnitus experience a reduction in symptoms, or improved responses to the onset of those symptoms. 

Sound Therapy

Sound therapy is one of the most frequently used tinnitus therapies, and with good reason: sound therapy can help successfully acclimate someone with tinnitus to phantom sounds, effectively leading to a reduction in symptoms or a significantly decreased lack of awareness of those symptoms. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Woman meeting with a therapist

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of mental health intervention that is designed to alter responses to mental and emotional triggers, in order to reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and general feelings of discomfort or overwhelm. When used as an intervention for tinnitus, CBT addresses the emotional and psychological effects of the condition, which can have a significant positive impact on patient outcomes. 

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) is an approach to tinnitus that combines education, sound therapy, and counseling, in order to provide a multi-pronged approach to soothing tinnitus symptoms. TRT is used as a management technique to help address tinnitus from several different angles, and provides a similar level of support to the emotional and psychological aspects of a tinnitus diagnosis as CBT, with the addition of empowerment via education and sound therapy.  

Tinnitus Treatment With A Proven Track Record

Leaping on the latest in tinnitus treatment can be tempting; after all, as understanding of and research into the condition continues, more comprehensive and successful treatment options can be employed. Nevertheless, until these up-and-coming treatment plans have a solid body of evidence encouraging their use, audiologists like the team at Treble Health will continue to deliver high-quality and effective tinnitus treatments using evidence-based and scientifically-backed options to offer lasting tinnitus relief.

If you’re ready to start the journey towards lasting tinnitus relief, we strongly encourage you to schedule a complimentary telehealth consultation with an expert on our team. In this 20-minute Zoom session, we will delve into your unique situation, providing answers to your questions and personalized strategies to manage and alleviate your tinnitus symptoms. We are committed to helping you regain control over your auditory world, guiding you towards a life of tranquility and well-being. Don’t wait; schedule your free consultation today and begin your journey to a quieter, more peaceful life.

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