Managing Meniere’s Disease: Tinnitus Treatments

I have written previously that for me, the most debilitating symptom is the vertigo attack. Tinnitus is another common symptom that can drive sufferers up the wall.

There are two types of tinnitus: subjective tinnitus and objective tinnitus. The subjective type covers 98% of tinnitus sufferers.  Those with subjective tinnitus hear sounds that others cannot.  Those with objective tinnitus produce a sound that external observers can hear–usually with a stethoscope or other listening device.

There is a handfull of common treatments for tinnitus:

  1. Hearing Aids- Tinnitus is more prominent in quieter environments.  By increasing the background sounds through the use of a hearing aid, the perceived tinnitus level decreases.  You cannot completely remove tinnitus this way but may be able to reduce it enough that it becomes much less noticeable. If you have a hearing loss, then this strategy also helps by improving your hearing which in turn improves your communication.
  2. Tinnitus Maskers-These devices look like hearing aids and use the brute force method of creating sound that will overpower your tinnitus.  You can usually adjust the frequency and volume of the sound to match your tinnitus.
  3. Notched Music- This is music that has been modified to activate the neurons adjacent to those responsible for causing the tinnitus.   Based on your selection, the company Tinnitus Music Lab, will modify a set of music specific to your hearing profile.  You can then listen to the music using the headphones they provide and your own MP3 player.
  4. Medications-See your doctor for what is available for you and your situation.  You may want to ask about amitriptyline or nortriptyline–both antidepressants.   In his book Tinnitus: Turning The Volume Down, doctor Kevin Hogan talks about Xanax to help those with Tinnitus.  Some of those antidepressants also act as a sedative, so if you are having trouble sleeping due to tinnitus, they may be worth considering. Medications for tinnitus are just like different treatments for Meniere’s disease.Some treatments work for some people but not others.
  5. Relaxation Techniques-I have beat this one to death on this blog. Anything that reduces stress, will improve your overall health and your ear health.  Activities to consider are yoga, meditation, and biofeedback.

For more information on how to help yourself with tinnitus, visit The American Tinnitus Association.