Tinnitus. Treatment Options?

I’ve had tinnitus for about fifteen years now, and can just ignore it most of the time.

Just yesterday NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me mentioned some tests that found electric shock can be effective for some, but -

Still, University of Oxford neuroscientist Victoria Bajo notes there was no control group in the trial. Without that, she says, it’s impossible to know how much patients would have improved on their own or with a placebo. The work is good, she says, “but this is the beginning.”

I have some 9-volt batteries somewhere in the house. Hmm…

Interestingly, when I started seeing my cardiologist (about eight months ago), he advised me to lay off the NSAIDS, so it’s been Tylenol for me ever since. Before that, I was relying on Aleve to handle the arthritis in my left hip.

Google “acetaminophen” and see if tinnitus is listed as a side effect. If it is, you could try a lower dose.

The OP’s situation sounds exactly like how mine started back in 2005-ish. I worked for years in moderately noisy places where hearing protection wasn’t legally required and wasn’t much used. Although we used it in the very insanely noisy places nearby.

One day on leave, having had no noise exposure for a month or so, suddenly there it was, a continuous high pitched tone (or two) in 1 ear and intermittently in the other. I’ve listened to that noise every waking minute since; 15+ years and counting. The then-intermittent ear is now continuous at a slightly different frequency. Oh bother. Let me rephrase that: This sucks donkey balls and there’s not a damn thing you or I can do about it.

I immediately got religion about hearing protection always at work everywhere & gave up shooting. Even with all the best protection always worn while shooting (plugs and muffs), the impulse noise is not good.

I’ve tried the various OTC / herbal remedies. Negligible effect.

I get 6-month audiology checks and by having gotten religion about hearing protection at work I’m not fading much worse than anyone else my age who works in a quiet office. But the effect of the tinnitus is that my useable hearing is less than my peers because I can’t pick up speech as well over the continuous EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE noise in my head. In effect I’m always in a noisy restaurant even when nobody else is.

Throughout this I’ve tried to avoid paying attention to the noise. If you focus on it, you amplify it. That’s gotten harder as I’ve gotten older and it’s gotten louder.

A couple years ago I tried then bought some hearing aids whose claim to fame is they’re also white noise generators. Just a smidgen of that pumped into my ears greatly reduced the perception of the tinnitus. And helps a bit even after I take them out to go to bed. The noise is still there but you don’t notice as much. I highly recommend this feature once the noise gets to interfering with your concentration.

Along the way, these aids also boost the high frequencies I no longer hear. Speech intelligibility is much improved, especially of women. It’s sad to say, but that was one of the best presents I’ve bought myself recently. A lot of quality of life gain in a small easy to use package.

I don’t have experience with OTC pain meds causing more perception of tinnitus. I take those things rarely, but haven’t ever noticed them triggering a change.

But some alcohol some days certainly does. There are few brands of wine that turn my volume up to 11. I avoid those. It doesn’t seem to be based on the grape or style; it’s probably a synergy with some other ingredient and the alcohol itself. It is dose related, so if half a glass makes your ears ring extra, quit now.

I’m slowly zeroing my alcohol consumption anyhow just as part of getting older. I’d probably be smarter to cut to zero now for the tinnitus if nothing else.


My bottom lines: Welcome to the party. This sucks. Better late than never on hearing protection; plugs & muffs are better than either alone. If practical, get a quieter job. Get thee to an audiologist (not a hearing aid salesman; a real physician) for appropriate testing. A white noise generator helps reduce the perception of tinnitus. Hearing aids are great once you need them. Pay attention to foods & drugs that trigger louder tinnitus and avoid those.

Aspirin gives me tinnitus. It starts about 20 minutes after I take it, and lasts for about an hour. Other NSAIDS don’t cause it for me, albeit, I have seen tinnitus listed as a side effect on websites for naproxen and ibuprofen. I just avoid aspirin-- pretty easy, since menstrual cramps are the only things aspirin helps anyway-- doesn’t make a dent in headaches, tooth pain, pulled muscles, nor any other pain I’ve ever experienced. Tylenol works on virtually everything except sprains, and naproxen works on those, so I make sure I always have those two around. I don’t keep aspirin in the house.

The last time I took it was about 15 years ago, when I was at my parents, and my Tylenol wore off; I’d forgotten to bring some with me, and I got cramps with a vengeance, so I took the only thing they had, which was aspirin. Got the tinnitus, noted that I still got it, and resolved not to forget to carry Tylenol at all times. Put small bottles of it in my car, my backpack, and my desk at work.

I heartily concur. Plus I also endorse the helpfulness of hearing aids, they are worth the cost and the adjustment period to learn how to use them if an ENT doc or Audiologist (never a hearing aid ‘specialist’ or salesperson) evaluates you and recommends them. Hearing aids have to be selected, fit and programmed specifically for you-ordering the cheapest one online is a certain route to frustration and futility.

I have good results from a white noise sound machine for sleeping. I can custom adjust the tone and pitch and this makes the tinnitus much less maddening at night.

I have a white noise machine, because, insomnia, but I also sometimes plug a speaker into my laptop, and choose a sound from Youtube. Search “sleep sounds,” or just “white noise.” There are people who have recorded specifically with the idea of sleeping, and the noise will either play 8-10 hours, or loop.

This is experimental, but interesting to read.
Scientific American - New Tinnitus Treatment

Very promising!