If someone claims they have a “cure” for tinnitus, don’t be fooled. The internet is crowded with all sorts of remedies and products but the sad news is there are no cures. “Cure” is a regulatory term restricted for use by FDA–approved prescription drugs, and right now there are no approved drugs or cures for tinnitus. But that doesn’t mean tinnitus is unmanageable or untreatable. The good news is that there may be relief from tinnitus symptoms.
To understand the good and sad news, we need to look at what tinnitus is and what causes it. In almost all instances, the buzzing, pinging, ringing or whooshing noise that keeps you awake, makes it difficult to function, or drives you nuts isn’t happening in your ears. Almost all tinnitus is a neurological disorder, a nerve problem. What you perceive as sounds are actually generated in the auditory cortex in your brain, not in your inner ear. In a very few cases, the cause is physiological and can be detected in a medical exam. But if you’re like the vast majority of tinnitus sufferers, no one else can hear the noises you are hearing because those phantom sounds are only in your brain.
How did I get tinnitus?
We each begin life with about 31000 hearing cells, and when they die, these cells can’t be replaced or regrown. These delicate sensory nerve cells allow us to hear. When these cells are damaged or die, hearing loss starts. Tinnitus is a common related consequence of this. With hearing loss, our inner ear sensory nerve cells send incomplete signals to the brain, or no signal at all. When the damaged cells create abnormalities in the signals sent to the brain, tinnitus symptoms can occur. The brain adapts to the absence of expected sensory signal patterns and the result is the brain noise of tinnitus.
How can I manage my tinnitus symptoms?
Doctors can prescribe anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, or sleeping aids that may help manage the psychological impacts of tinnitus. There are sound-based interventions designed to mask the noise of tinnitus, typically by using wearable or external devices that distract overactive brain cells. Masker therapies are safe, typically require long-term time commitments and are somewhat effective.
Psychological interventions, like cognitive behavior therapy, are aimed at improving quality of life and reducing psychological distress caused by tinnitus. Other techniques include manual physical therapy, relaxation therapy, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies.
Electromagnetic stimulation therapies including repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation and transcranial direct current stimulation aim to reduce brain cell activity by delivering tiny amounts of electricity to the skin. Unfortunately, there is no convincing evidence that this works.
What these treatments have in common is that they are all aimed at dealing with tinnitus-related distress and the day-to-day impact of tinnitus but don’t reduce the loudness of tinnitus or provide symptom relief.
We can help with tinnitus relief
Soundbites, an oral micronutrient supplement developed by a team at The University of Michigan Medical School, was designed to preserve hearing by preventing inner ear injury, especially from noise. Soundbites works by blocking the biochemical triggers that damage inner ear nerves that cause hearing loss. Soundbites helps maintain or even improve inner ear health, even when inner ear function has been previously compromised.
It turns out that Soundbites can help manage tinnitus symptoms, too. Those who already suffer from tinnitus as a result of an auditory system disorder tend to experience relief from tinnitus symptoms when taking Soundbites because Soundbites improves their auditory function. The way Soundbites works to preserve hearing also results in less intrusive levels of phantom sounds – noise generated in the brain.
The link between hearing loss and tinnitus is strong and widely viewed as the main underlying factor for tinnitus. The same biochemical triggers that damage inner ear nerves and cause hearing loss also trigger tinnitus. The best way to reduce the risk of tinnitus is to prevent the hearing damage and hearing loss that often causes it.