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Tinnitus treatments

If the cause of your tinnitus cannot be treated, your GP or specialist may refer you for one or more therapies to help you manage your tinnitus.

What’s recommended for you will depend on how your tinnitus affects you and whether you have any other hearing problems.

There are also different things you can do to manage your tinnitus without professional support. This includes taking steps to manage your stress levels, as stress can make tinnitus more noticeable.

Most people find that their tinnitus improves over time.

Therapies your specialist may recommend

Tinnitus counselling

A specialist will explain to you what tinnitus is, how it can be caused and what might help. This can help to relieve any concerns or worries you might have, and help you to find ways of coping with it.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

If tinnitus is making you feel stressed or anxious, your tinnitus specialist may refer you for cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). A therapist will encourage and support you to challenge your ways of thinking and feeling about tinnitus, and find the best way for you to deal with it. Research has shown that it can have a positive effect on tinnitus management.
If you can’t get a referral for CBT from your tinnitus specialist but think you could benefit from it, speak to your GP. Private CBT is also available, but you’ll need to pay for that.

Sound therapy

Sound therapy uses neutral sounds to distract you from paying attention to your tinnitus. Over time, this can help your brain to filter out tinnitus, to the point it no longer bothers you. This process is called habituation.

Your specialist may recommend:

  • Tinnitus maskers – these look a bit like hearing aids and can be worn in, or behind, your ear. They play a soft ‘shushing’ sound.
  • Sound generators – these are portable devices that produce a range of quiet, natural sounds, such as birdsong and falling raindrops.

If you have hearing loss as well as tinnitus, your specialist may recommend hearing aids or combination devices.

  • Hearing aids can help you to hear better and will make environmental sounds louder, which can help to mask, or distract you from, your tinnitus.
  • A combination device has all the advantages of a hearing aid but it also generates sounds to help mask tinnitus.

Relaxation exercises

A regular relaxation routine can help to reduce stress levels. And, as you become calmer and more relaxed, you may find it easier to manage your tinnitus and not notice it as much.

Relaxation exercises usually involve deep breathing, muscle relaxation and rhythmic exercises. They can be done anywhere at any time. You’ll get most benefit if you do them regularly, as part of your daily routine.

Many tinnitus clinics teach relaxation exercises to help with tinnitus management. Speak to your specialist if you think you could benefit, to find out what’s available.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a simple form of meditation that involves paying more attention to the present moment – to your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the world around you. It has been shown to have a range of positive effects and can improve general wellbeing.

When used as a therapy for tinnitus, mindfulness is not expected to change the nature of the tinnitus, but it can change how you respond to it in a positive way, so you’re able to cope with it better. It can help you to accept your tinnitus, so that you no longer fight it and it no longer causes you to feel distressed.

What you can do to manage tinnitus

Listen to soothing sounds

You don’t need professional support to make use of sound therapy. You can try soft music, or different sound therapy products and tinnitus apps to take your mind off tinnitus.

Learn to relax

You can learn how to relax by going to a local relaxation, yoga or mindfulness class. And many apps (software applications) for smartphones and tablet devices can guide you through relaxation exercises.

You can find a simple breathing exercise for stress on the NHS website.

Improve your general health

Having a well-balanced diet and taking regular exercise will help your overall wellbeing and may help you to cope with tinnitus more easily. Speak to your GP for advice.

Protect your ears from loud noise

Exposure to too much loud noise can damage your ears and worsen existing tinnitus.

See our online information on how to protect your ears.