Ringing in the Ears - Tinnitus - Ear Noise

Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

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Tinnitus is the ringing, buzzing, crackling, or hissing sound heard inside one or both ears. Sufferers of tinnitus can experience a wide variety of noise, the severity of which ranges from minor annoyance to debilitating pain.

Tinnitus may be caused by allergy, high or low blood pressure (blood circulation problems), a tumor, diabetes, thyroid problems, injury to the head or neck, as well as a variety of medications including anti-inflammatory medicines, antibiotics, sedatives, antidepressants, and aspirin.

Colds and flu, noisy environments, allergy flare-ups can increase the intensity of tinnitus noise. Other tinnitus irritants include high salt intake, sugar, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, various medications, tobacco, and caffeine.

How Common is Tinnitus?

The American Tinnitus Association estimates that 50 million people in the United States have experienced tinnitus.

Causes and Symptoms of Tinnitus

  • Allergies
  • Ear infections
  • Hearing loss
  • Excessive ear wax
  • Brain or head injury
  • Menieres Disease
  • Otosclerosis
  • Poor circulation
  • High-blood pressure
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Stress
  • Kidney Yin Deficiencies
  • Lyme Disease
  • TMJ
  • TMS

Suggested Treatments for Tinnitus

Each sufferer of tinnitus has a personal experience with the condition. What brings relief for one person may not work for another. There are a variety of natural treatments available, but tinnitus sufferers should seek a physician's care before pursuing a course of treatment.

Alternative Therapy

Acupuncture, cranio-sacral therapy, magnet therapy, hyperbaric oxygen, and hypnosis are among the alternative treatments that holistic healers have employed to manage the discomfort and pain associated with tinnitus. Although some tinnitus sufferers have found these treatments helpful, research on the effectiveness of these treatments has been inconclusive.

Aromatherapy

In cases where problems with blood circulation are symptomatic of tinnitus, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Natural Remedies recommends four essential oils: rosemary, cypress, lemon, and rose. Oils can be administered with a head massage, a vaporizer, or an aromatherapy diffuser.

Counseling

Living with tinnitus can be an emotionally taxing experience. Talking with a counselor or joining a support group can offer emotional support.

Herbs

Ginkgo Biloba, Black Cohosh, Hawthorn, Melatonin

According to a study done by the Department of Food Science at the University of Massachusetts, ginkgo leaf extract may be effective for the treatment of tinnitus. Ginkgo extract is widely prescribed by holistic healers as a treatment for a range of health issues including memory and concentration problems, confusion, depression, anxiety, dizziness, tinnitus and headache.

The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants categorizes tinnitus as a nerve condition that can benefit from black cohosh. Additionally, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Natural Remedies suggests black cohosh as an herbal remedy for blood congestion or pressure in the head. It also suggests hawthorn as a remedy for tinnitus due to it being a tonic for the circulatory system.



To address tinnitus related sleep disturbances, melatonin combined with Sulodexide is a viable treatment option for patients suffering from central or sensorineural tinnitus, according to study conducted by the University of Chieti-Pescara on managing tinnitus.

Homeopathy

Homeopathic remedies suggested as natural treatments for tinnitus by homeopathic practitioners include Calcarea carbonica, Carbo vegetabilis, Cinchona officinalis (China), Chininum sulphuricum, Cimicifuga, Coffea cruda, Graphites, Kali carbonicum, Lycopodium, Natrum salicylicum, and Salicylicum acidum. However, medical research has not shown the effectiveness of homeopathy for tinnitus relief.

Relaxation Therapies

Massage therapy, Meditation, Yoga, and Biofeedback

Stress relief and relaxation therapies are helpful in easing the discomfort and pain of tinnitus.

Massage applied to the head, neck and chest is suggested.

Sound Therapy

White noise machines. Sound tapes (rainfalls, ocean waves, humming, chants, wind sounds, etc.).

Sound therapy is used as a way to mask or distract from the annoying noises associated with tinnitus.

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy is a counseling technique used to teach tinnitus sufferers how to refocus their attentions away from the ill effects of tinnitus. Results from clinical study overseen by the Department of Veteran Affairs indicated that TRT was significantly more effective in comparison to traditional counseling or non-treatment.

TMS Healing

Tinnitus is among the many conditions identified as possibly manifested by TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome), a psychosomatic disorder. Steven Ray Ozanich, author of The Great Pain Deception says his own ear ringing was silenced with TMS healing.

Also check out: Coping Strategies from Tinnitus Sufferers

Next: Vitamins and Minerals

  • Magnesium
  • Melatonin
  • Zinc
  • Potassium
  • Vitamins A, B, and C
  • Bioflavonoids
     

According to The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Natural Remedies, deficiencies in magnesium and potassium have been linked with tinnitus. Vitamins A and C, and bioflavonoids promote healthy circulation.

Zinc deficiency is also associated with some people experiencing tinnitus, especially the elderly. Four out of five small studies indicated that administration of zinc had a beneficial effect on relieving tinnitus.

However, researchers concluded that a follow-up study with larger samples was required for confirmation.

Rich in vitamin B. E, and folic acid, sesame seeds are prescribed by herbalists as a nutritional supplement for people with vitamin deficiencies associated with ringing in the ears.

Cautionary Note: If you are taking prescription medications, check with your pharmacist or doctor, or other health care provider before taking an herbal supplement.

References:

American Tinnitus Association

http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/tinnitus.cfm

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Natural Remedies by C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D.

The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants by Andrew Chevallie

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Rehabilitation Research and Development Service National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research, Randomized clinical trial: Group counseling based on tinnitus retraining therapy, JRRD Volume 44, Number 1, 2007

Mahadevan S, Park Y. Department of Food Science, University of Massachusetts - Multifaceted therapeutic benefits of Ginkgo biloba L.: chemistry, efficacy, safety, and uses. J Food Sci. 2008 Jan;73(1):R14-9

Birks J, Grimley Evans J., University of Oxford, Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine - Ginkgo biloba for cognitive impairment and dementia. 2007 Apr 18;(2):CD003120

Coelho CB, Tyler R, Hansen M. Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, The University of Iowa - Zinc as a possible treatment for tinnitus. 2007;166:279-85

Neri G, Baffa C, De Stefano A, Poliandri A, Kulamarva G, Di Giovanni P, Petrucci AG, Castriotta A, Citraro L, Cerrone D, D' Orazio F, Croce A., Basic and Applied Medical Sciences Department, G. d Annunzio University of Chieti-Pescara. Management of tinnitus: oral treatment with melatonin and sulodexide. 2009 Apr-Jun;23(2):103-10