Home remedies for treating tinnitus include consumption of a multi-nutrient rich diet with low sodium content, relaxation techniques such as yoga, acupuncture, and usage of ear plugs or ear muffs. Herbs such as Cornus, Bayberry bark, burdock root, black cohosh, Ligustrum, hawthorn leaf, Ginkgo biloba may prove helpful in relieving tinnitus, attributing to their special qualities that may heal the underlying conditions disguised in tinnitus. Avoiding drug triggers, alcohol, smoking, caffeine, and loud music may also prove beneficial in tinnitus. Furthermore, music therapy, foot baths, usage of garlic, turpentine, warm salt pillow, mustard seed powder, walnuts, and ginger may also bring holistic relief against tinnitus.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a condition characterized by the perception of annoying sound inside the human ear without the external presence of any actual sound. It means ‘ringing’ in Latin, tinnitus is more of a noisy feeling within the ear, somewhat like humming, buzzing, whistling or hissing. Tinnitus or ringing in the ear, in itself, is not a disease but an indication of underlying conditions which may need attention. The sound sensation of tinnitus may be periodical or persistent at all times. The ringing in the ear sensation may be low-pitched or high-pitched and may be felt in one or both the ears. Tinnitus may be associated with ear but its real source dwells in the network of brain cells.
Types of Tinnitus
The condition of tinnitus may be generally categorized into two kinds as mentioned below:
Objective Tinnitus: Usually the person suffering from tinnitus only can feel such sounds, however, in some rare cases it can also be heard by people around. This type of tinnitus is described as an objective tinnitus which can be detected by an observer, either by being in close vicinity to the patient’s ear or with the help of a stethoscope pressed around the neck and head area. This type of tinnitus is generally related to a muscular or vascular malady and accounts for not more than 5 percent of the total tinnitus cases. It is commonly described as pulsatile tinnitus in which the associated noise may be felt beating in sync with the person’s pulse.
Subjective Tinnitus: Subjective tinnitus is a more common type of tinnitus and in this, the associated sound can only be sensed by the sufferer. This kind of tinnitus is most frequently present in general ear disorders which are caused as a consequence of the damaged nerve or hair cell.
Causes of Tinnitus
Afflictions like a common cold or being in and around the areas with loud noise for a long time such as a musical concert may result in temporary tinnitus which is not a serious concern. Other major causes of tinnitus have been discussed as below:
Damage to the Inner Ear: Damage inside the inner ear is the most common reason behind the occurrence of tinnitus condition. Usually, the sounds which we hear, travel from the outer ear via middle ear and finally reach the inner ear. The inner ear consists of a cochlea, a coiled tube consisting of numerous sensitive hair cells and auditory nerves which convey the sounds to the brain. When the cochlea gets partly damaged, some parts of the brain stop receiving information. These refrained parts of the brain vigorously look out for signals from the functioning part of the cochlea resulting in the imbalance in neural circuits and lead to the noise associated with tinnitus.
Noise-induced: Individuals who work in noise prone environment for prolonged duration such as road crew, people in musical concerts, noisy factories and industries may also eventually develop the condition of tinnitus. The persistent exposures to loud noise harm the delicate sensory hair cells present in the inner ear and interfere in the process of sending sound signals to the brain. People in defense forces such as soldiers who are in the vicinity of loud bomb blasts are also at an enhanced risk of developing such hearing loss due to the damages caused in the sound processing brain tissues. Such conditions are referred to as noise-induced hearing loss.
Pulsatile Tinnitus: In this kind of tinnitus rhythmic noises beat along with the patient’s pulse. Causes of pulsatile tinnitus include amplified turbulence or altered flow of blood in the neck or head area. This could be due to the buildup of fatty deposits within the artery walls resulting in narrowed arteries which obstruct the smooth flow of blood and cause tinnitus. Brain tumors or deformity in the constitution of the brain may also be the reason behind the occurrence of tinnitus sounds.
Medication Side Effect: The problem of tinnitus may also crop up as a side effect of some medications including antidepressants, cancer medicines, sedatives, anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin
Apart from these, tinnitus may also be caused as a consequence of a range of health conditions such as high or low blood pressure, ear and sinus infection, hormonal changes in women, abnormality in the functioning of thyroid gland, blood vessel or heart disease, otitis media or middle ear infection, blockage of ear canal caused by earwax, otosclerosis, a condition characterized by the abnormal growth of bone in the middle ear, Meniere’s disease, Paget’s disease, punctured or perforated eardrum, decrease in the number of red blood cells causing the thinning of blood and rapid circulation which may create sound in the ears.
Symptoms of Tinnitus
Tinnitus itself is a kind of symptom signaling some disturbance in the auditory system. It may have varied effects on different people with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Some people may feel enhanced sensitivity towards music, radio or television and find it disturbingly loud even if it is at normal volumes. This situation is referred to as hyperacusis. Individuals suffering from prolonged tinnitus and hearing loss may experience musical hallucinations.
The condition of tinnitus normally gets worse during silent periods such as during the night or when they are trying to sleep. During such period, the sound becomes more noticeable as there is little or no outside noise to divert you from the internal ringing sound of tinnitus.
Some people may also hear tinnitus noise when they get into specific postures like while turning their head or lying down.
People who are in continuous exposure to low-frequency sounds such as traffic noise sounds coming from underground machinery or pipes, common home appliances such as mixer-grinder, fans, air conditioning units, often mistakenly presume the tinnitus sound to be coming from outside rather than being internally produced from their ears or head.
The intensity of tinnitus broadly depends upon a person’s response towards the condition. Many individuals find difficulty in sleeping, may feel anxious and depressed, unable to concentrate on their routine tasks. While most of the tinnitus patients also suffer from hearing loss, however, tinnitus itself does not signal that the patient is losing the hearing ability.
Diagnosis of Tinnitus
For a proper diagnosis of tinnitus, your doctor will perform several examinations. These will mostly include audiological tests and some simple questions pertaining to your health.
Hearing Test: In this test, you will be required to sit in a soundproof room with headphones on. There, the sound will be played in one of your ears at a time, and on the basis of when you hear the sound, your condition will be evaluated or diagnosed.
The above test will then be followed by a number of questions, such as:
- How frequently is the disturbance experienced?
- Is the ringing in the ear constant?
- Are there any other symptoms like vertigo, hearing loss, etc.?
- Is the problem impacting your daily life?
- Does it affect only one ear or both?
- Are there any high doses of medications that you’re on, like antibiotics or aspirin?
Your doctor will also check your ears inside out for any ear wax build-up that might be causing the buzzing or whistling sound. They can also perform a blood test for any underlying condition like diabetes or anemia that might be causing the problem. Other tests include imaging tests like CT or MRI scans.
Home Remedies and Treatments for Tinnitus
Home remedies that may bring therapeutic relief from tinnitus have been discussed as under:
Consumption of a balanced diet rich in nutrients particularly vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, copper, and selenium may contribute towards the betterment of tinnitus. Vitamin A is important for the health of ear membranes. Vitamin C and vitamin E have tremendous anti-oxidative qualities which help in protecting the cell membrane from oxidative stress which is implicated in the condition of tinnitus. Vitamin C enhances and restores the blood flow and is a well-established remedy for preventing and treating inflammation and infections. These micronutrients seek out for the oxygen free radical and work towards neutralizing their effects. A deficit of vitamin B12 may elevate the levels of homocysteine in the body which can be toxic to the nerves and may lead to a range of nervous system disorders including tinnitus and hearing loss. Adequate magnesium in the body may prevent the constriction of blood vessels including the arteries connecting to the inner ear and lessen the risk of tinnitus.
Limit Sodium Intake
Consumption of lesser amount of sodium may help improve the condition of tinnitus especially in the individuals suffering from Meniere’s disease which is characterized by the retention of extreme amounts of fluid in the ear leading to dizziness, hearing loss, and a filled feeling in the ear. People with such a condition should opt for a low-sodium variety of salt and generally control their daily dietary sodium intake. In case you experience a feeling of fullness in the ear associated with tinnitus, medical professionals generally recommend consuming adequate calcium and potassium rich diet.
Ear Plugs and Ear Muffs
Using ear plugs may prove helpful during the condition of tinnitus. Wearing ear plugs in noise prone areas like construction sites, noisy industries, roads or any other regions with disturbing ear splitting sounds may reduce the volume to a great extent and yet allow you to hear the voice clearly. Ear plugs are readily available at audiology clinics, music stores, and pharmacies. Foam-filled ear muffs that firmly seal the ear are another comforting option for defending the disturbing sounds in case you don’t buy the idea of ear plugs.
Acupuncture is an ancient approach which comes as a rescue to a number of ailments such as tinnitus and is in fact advocated for its efficacy by various scientific researchers as well. Sticking acupuncture needles in the body areas that are most liable to alleviate tinnitus may help provide relief from tinnitus to a great extent. Once learned and trained from a professional, acupuncture may prove an effective home remedy for curing tinnitus.
Avoid Loud Noise
Restrictive exposure to the distressingly loud noises such as power motors, carpentering jobs, and very loud volume music may prove helpful in averting the condition of tinnitus. Such sounds may injure the microscopic hair on the auditory cells present in the inner ear and worsen the condition of tinnitus.
Avoid Trigger Drugs
Medications such as aspirin may lead to the ringing in the ear associated with tinnitus. Excessive intentional or inadvertent ingestion of such medicines may affect the auditory cells in the inner ear and lead to the sound sensation. In fact, some people who take such medication on a regular basis should talk to the doctor and be aware of its side effects. Just in case you are already experiencing ringing in the ear sensation, inform your doctor before changing or starting any new medications.
Interestingly, music in itself may prove as a healer in tinnitus. Listening to calming soft music especially the melody of nature, such as sounds of running water, and other nature generated jingling may help relieve tinnitus. Other than that, self-humming for a few seconds, especially when you are in the vicinity of loud noise, is also considered effective in tinnitus, attributing to the ability of this technique to activate a particular muscle in the inner ear which constricts the little bones jointly and avert some of the noisy waves to get through and aids in shielding the ears from continuous exposure to the loud noise.
Another home remedy for tinnitus which comes handy in the everyday kitchen is garlic. Antioxidant properties of garlic help in relieving the ringing sensation associated with tinnitus. Blend about six cloves of garlic with a cup of almond or olive oil till it is nicely mixed and minced. Let the mixture sleep and keep it for about a week. Sieve the liquid and apply a few drops in the ear. This may soothe the ringing feeling in the ear and promote the hearing.
Blend a spoon of clean turpentine with an equivalent amount of almond or olive oil and place a cotton ball squeezed in that mixture in your ear overnight. This would help alleviate the noisy sensation in the ear.
Relaxation technique like yoga and deep breathing may help the body in combating tinnitus. Regular exercise and relaxation regime help in improving the blood circulation and also decreases the stress factor that may accentuate the problem of tinnitus.
Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, and Smoking
Excessive intake of caffeine, alcohol, and smoking habits may worsen the problem of tinnitus. Nicotine present in such items obstructs the blood flow to the ear structures. So, gradually cutting down on such triggers may prove useful in tinnitus.
Warm Salt Pillow
Using a pillow filled with warm salt helps alleviate the symptoms of tinnitus. Fill a cotton fabric bag with fairly warm stir-fried salt. Lie down on the pillow resting both the ears on the salt bag alternately. Doing this and reheating the salt when cooled several times may bring relief in improving the condition of tinnitus.
Mustard Seed Powder
Using powdered mustard may also bring relief in soothing the sensation of tinnitus. Finely powdered mustard wrapped in a cotton ball can be inserted in the ear before sleeping and should be removed in the morning. Repeat this for three days and it may help relieve the sound sensation associated with tinnitus. Make sure the cotton does not have any leakage point and avoid this remedy for young children.
Take some walnuts and soak them in salt water for 30 minutes and let them dry. Stir-fry them on low heat till they are crispy and crunchy. Eat about ½ ounce of these walnuts every morning and this may prove beneficial against tinnitus.
Ginger is a multi-talented vegetable which extends its therapeutic attributes in healing a range of ailments including tinnitus. Healing qualities of the ginger attribute to its ability in stimulating the circulation of blood, fight pathogens and exert antioxidative defense towards oxygen free radicals. It also aids in relieving nausea associated with tinnitus.
Alternating hot and cold foot baths may help alleviate the symptoms of tinnitus attributing to the dilation of blood vessels that may result from such exercise. This stimulates the blood flow towards the head and helps treat tinnitus.
Use of herbs for treating Tinnitus
Japanese cornel dogwood (Cornus officinalis) is a traditional remedy which is quite popular among the Chinese experts for treating inner ear diseases such as tinnitus and hearing loss. Recent studies have also advocated the efficacy of this fruit, whose active ingredients such as ursolic acid possess astringent qualities, which help prevent the damage caused to the auditory cells. The protective effect of this remedy owes to its ability to inhibit lipid peroxidation and stimulate antioxidant action to counteract the activity of free radicals.
Bayberry herb purifies the blood, fights infections and eliminates toxins from the blood.
Hawthorn leaf and flower are effective in curing and controlling the problem of high blood pressure and other circulatory problems which can cause tinnitus.
Ginkgo herb may help in reducing the symptoms of Meniere’s disease such as hearing loss and dizziness implicated in tinnitus. It has beneficiary effects on the memory, helps stimulate the circulatory system, and promotes the supply of blood towards the inner ear.
Black cohosh also helps in curing anxiety, nervousness associated with tinnitus. It helps binding serotonin in the brain and has inhibitory effects on vasomotor center linked with inner ear balance. One should definitely watch out for the intake of black cohosh as its overdose may result in nausea, liver damage, and dizziness.
Other miscellaneous remedies
Use a toothpick to gently arouse the points at the outer edge of the little toe near the toe nail. Continue till you feel a tingling sensation at the top of the head. Doing this technique once a day may help in tinnitus.
Clenching your teeth on the side of the infected ear may sooth the noisy sensation.
Gently drumming on your ears for about 2-3 minutes or 100 times twice a day may assist in relieving the ringing. Usage of fingers to dig into the ear to remove the accumulation of water should be avoided.
Consumption of diet low in fat and sugar content may also contribute in curing tinnitus to a great extent. High-fat foods exert stress on the body and contract the blood vessel and arteries. Sugar has the ability to constrict the blood vessels in the inner ear and worsen the problem of tinnitus.
Depending on the severity, some instances of tinnitus may create an annoying experience and significantly influence the quality of life of an individual attributing to the added burden of internal sounds cropping up in the head and may also be the cause of psychological distress in some people. Nevertheless, the problem of tinnitus is curable and a few dietary and lifestyle changes along with a little awareness regarding some self-care tips and home remedies may go a long way in providing relief and cure tinnitus holistically. Natural caution and an expert advice from a medical professional with a detailed expression of existing symptoms are always recommended before considering any home treatment or self-help approach to cure tinnitus.