How to Help Tinnitus

Allergy | August 26, 2017 | Author: Naturopath

Circulatory system, sinus

How to Help Tinnitus

Hearing constant ringing in the ears can be incredibly annoying to say the very least. It can be short-lived lasting only a few days or become chronic. Approximately 17-20% of Aussies experience tinnitus which can range from mild to severe. Tinnitus does not need to dramatically affect your quality of life as there are many steps that can be taken to help manage the condition.

TiinitisWhat is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a physical condition which involves the annoying sensation of hearing sounds when no external sound is there. The word tinnitus is of Latin origin and means “tinkling or ringing like a bell”. Tinnitus is not limited to ringing but may be perceived as buzzing, roaring, humming, whistling or other noise. Tinnitus is caused by a fault in the hearing system and is a symptom associated with virtually all disorders of the auditory system.

Causes and risk factors

Many of the causes and risk factors of tinnitus are well-known, here are some of the most common ones.

  • The most common form of tinnitus arises from exposure to loud sounds which damage the inner ear or cochlea. Examples include listening to loud music in the car, at a rock concert or through head phones. People at high-risk include industrial workers, farmers and transport workers.
  • Some medications including aspirin, quinine, cancer chemotherapeutics and certain antibiotics
  • Head injury
  • Extreme stress or trauma
  • Nerve damage
  • Ear, nose and throat infections and upper respiratory allergies
  • Meniere’s Disease (an inner ear disorder that affects balance and hearing)
  • Excessive ear wax
  • Middle ear effusion
  • Ageing
  • Cardiovascular disease

How tinnitus impacts an individual

Tinnitus can be extremely debilitating, especially when the ringing is chronic. It can affect one’s quality of life, impacting their ability to work, have a conversation or cope with normal daily activities. People with tinnitus may suffer extreme distress, depression, anxiety, irritability and frequent mood swings. They can have trouble concentrating, hearing and sleeping.

Adapting to tinnitus

Getting used to tinnitus (also known as habituation), will decrease the impact that tinnitus has on your life. People can have high anxiety as a result of tinnitus because the brain has perceived the sound as threatening –making you feel anxious every time you hear it.

How to help tinnitusOnce you become used to tinnitus you will notice an improvement in sleeping, depression, anxiety and may able to do tasks that you were unable to do before. Adapting to tinnitus involves removing any emotional meaning and may involve resolving any underlying fears. Cognitive behaviour therapy through a clinical psychologist will help to change the way you think about tinnitus.

Masking devices

Masking devices and special hearing aids can be used to help to drown out the nagging tinnitus sound. Some people choose to use a white noise machine which plays soothing sounds such as falling rain or ocean waves. Certain hearing aids or masking devices that fit in the ear like an earplug are other examples of devices to reduce the intensity of unwanted sounds. Using natural sources of white noise such as fans, air conditioners and humidifiers could be utilized too.

Natural solutions to tinnitus

As there are many different causes of tinnitus choosing the best products to take can be better achieved by talking to a naturopath. Here are some of the most popular treatment options.

Treating infection and allergies

How to help tinnitus -garlicIf recurrent chronic ear, nose and throat infections are contributing to tinnitus then treatment needs to be aimed at supporting the immune system. Zinc and vitamin C are specific nutrients to tackle infections and reduce allergies such as hayfever.
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Eyebright, horseradish, garlic and sambucus are all specific herbs to reduce congestion and infection in the ears and sinuses. While albizzia, quercetin and perilla can help dampen the allergic response. Chronic infections can benefit from astragalus, andrographis, reishi and echinacea.
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Vitamin B12

Also called cobalamin, vitamin B12 is an important nutrient for nerve health. Deficiency signs include confusion and memory loss, depression, irritability, impaired co-ordination and pernicious anaemia. Vitamin B12 is a common deficiency, especially in the elderly due to reduced absorption. A study in 2013 confirmed that B12 deficiency and low plasma melatonin is common in the elderly who experience tinnitus. Another study found that intra-muscular vitamin B12 injections significantly improved chronic tinnitus in cobalamin-deficient patients. Results were achieved in as little as 6 weeks! Although injections are only available through a doctor, vitamin B12 can be supplemented and is best taken in sublingual form. This means the nutrient bypasses your digestive system and is absorbed in higher amounts under the tongue into your bloodstream.
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Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo is an herb traditionally used for improving circulation, particularly to the head and peripheries. It is commonly used to improve memory, concentration and is a useful antioxidant in cardiovascular health. 

How to help tinnitus - ginkgoThere are many studies that have been conducted on Ginkgo in tinnitus and unfortunately the results are conflicting— some show positive improvement, while others show none. This may be due to the quality of the herb, low dosage and the different causes of tinnitus.

Ginkgo would therefore be more likely to be helpful in individuals who suffer from cardiovascular disease and in those with poor circulation.
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Curcumin, vitamin E and lipoic acid

Although not specifically tested on patients with tinnitus the following nutrients may have some benefit. Curcumin from turmeric and vitamin E, both possessing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties have been shown to protect against drug-induced ear damage in animal subjects. The drug used cisplatin, is a chemotherapy drug characterized by irreversible, progressive, bilateral sensorineural hearing loss at high frequencies, accompanied by tinnitus.

Alpha lipoic acid protects hearing via antioxidant (glutathionation) support, neuronal energy production and heavy metal chelation. It is shown to protect the cochlear from free radical damage and noise induced hearing loss.
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References

http://www.tinnitus.asn.au

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/tinnitus

Baguley D, et al. Tinnitus. Lancet 2013 Nov 9;382(9904):1600-7

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23827090

Mahmoudian-Sani MR, et al. Ginkgo biloba in the treatment of tinnitus: an updated literature review. Int Tinnitus J. 2017 Jun 1;21(1):58-62

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28723603

Singh C, et al. Therapeutic role of Vitamin B12 in patients with chronic tinnitus: a pilot study. Noise Health. 2016 Mar-Apr;18(81):93-7

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26960786

Soyalıç H, et al. Intraperitoneal curcumin and vitamin E combination for the treatment of cisplatin-induced ototoxicity in rats. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27619052

Ozkul Y, et al. Evaluation of the protective effect of α-lipoic acid on cisplatin ototoxicity using distortion-product otoacoustic emission measurements: an experimental animal study. J Craniofac Surg. 2014 Jul;25(4):1515-8

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24905944

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