Treatments and drugsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Treating an underlying health condition
To treat your tinnitus, your doctor will first try to identify any underlying, treatable condition that may be associated with your symptoms. If tinnitus is due to a health condition, your doctor may be able to take steps that could reduce the noise. Examples include:
- Earwax removal. Removing impacted earwax can decrease tinnitus symptoms.
- Treating a blood vessel condition. Underlying vascular conditions may require medication, surgery or another treatment to address the problem.
- Changing your medication. If a medication you're taking appears to be the cause of tinnitus, your doctor may recommend stopping or reducing the drug, or switching to a different medication.
In some cases white noise may help suppress the sound so that it's less bothersome. Your doctor may suggest using an electronic device to suppress the noise. Devices include:
- White noise machines. These devices, which produce simulated environmental sounds such as falling rain or ocean waves, are often an effective treatment for tinnitus. You may want to try a white noise machine with pillow speakers to help you sleep. Fans, humidifiers, dehumidifiers and air conditioners in the bedroom may also help cover the internal noise at night.
- Hearing aids. These can be especially helpful if you have hearing problems as well as tinnitus.
- Masking devices. Worn in the ear and similar to hearing aids, these devices produce a continuous, low-level white noise that suppresses tinnitus symptoms.
- Tinnitus retraining. A wearable device delivers individually programmed tonal music to mask the specific frequencies of the tinnitus you experience. Over time, this technique may accustom you to the tinnitus, thereby helping you not to focus on it. Counseling is often a component of tinnitus retraining.
Drugs can't cure tinnitus, but in some cases they may help reduce the severity of symptoms or complications. Possible medications include:
- Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline and nortriptyline, have been used with some success. However, these medications are generally used for only severe tinnitus, as they can cause troublesome side effects, including dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation and heart problems.
- Alprazolam (Niravam, Xanax) may help reduce tinnitus symptoms, but side effects can include drowsiness and nausea. It can also become habit-forming.
- About tinnitus. American Tinnitus Association. http://www.ata.org/for-patients/about-tinnitus. Accessed Oct. 31, 2012.
- Dinces EA. Diagnosis and etiology of tinnitus. www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Oct. 31, 2012.
- Tinnitus fact sheet. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/staticresources/health/hearing/TinnitusFS.pdf. Accessed Nov. 1, 2012.
- Ruppert SD, et al. Tinnitus evaluation in primary care. The Nurse Practitioner. 2012;37:21.
- Tinnitus. American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/tinnitus.cfm. Accessed Nov. 1, 2012.
- Bope ET, et al. Conn's Current Therapy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-0986-5..C2009-0-38984-9--TOP&isbn=978-1-4377-0986-5&about=true&uniqId=236797353-5. Accessed Nov. 1, 2012.
- Treatment information. American Tinnitus Association. http://www.ata.org/for-patients/treatment. Accessed Nov. 1, 2012.
- Management tips. American Tinnitus Association. http://www.ata.org/for-patients/tips. Accessed Nov. 1, 2012.
- Dinces EA. Treatment of tinnitus. www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Oct. 31, 2012.
- Beatty CW (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 15, 2012.
- Langguth B, et al. Neuroimaging and neuromodulation: Complementary approaches for identifying the neuronal correlates of tinnitus. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience. 2012;6:1.