Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) treatment can involve medical intervention or natural remedies. Although there is no cure for tinnitus, there are ways to better manage the condition.
Tinnitus is permanent in about 25 percent of patients. In many cases, addressing the underlying cause of tinnitus can help ease the symptoms. Treatment methods may include taking antibiotics, removing obstructions or ear wax, changing medications or dosages, treating certain neurological illnesses, getting a surgery to correct joint problems, going for counselling for stress or depression, and getting dental work done. Exercise has also been shown to be an effective treatment option.
Therapies to manage tinnitus
Sound therapy: The goal of sound therapy is to fill the silence with neutral sounds to distract the patient from tinnitus. This can be as simple as opening a window or leaving a TV or radio on.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Often used for anxiety or depression, this type of therapy works to retrain your thoughts, which are believed to change the way you behave. In tinnitus, the goal is to retrain your thoughts to reduce stress and anxiety about tinnitus.
Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT): This is a specific type of therapy that helps retrain the brain in the way it responds to tinnitus, so you can be better able to tune out the sound.
Music therapy: Music therapy, particularly classical, can be calming and ease a patient’s reaction to tinnitus.
Acoustic therapy: Six main types of acoustic therapy are: sound generator, tinnitus instrument, hearing aids, tabletop or portable sound generator, home masking, and music therapy.
Biofeedback and neurofeedback: These techniques connect the patient to electrodes that send signals to a computer displaying visual or auditory signals that indicate stress, blood pressure, heart rate, and brain waves. The patient is then encouraged to regulate their body based on these signals to reduce their stress and other factors. Over time, this teaches the patient to control their bodily functions.
Exercise, too, can be beneficial for managing tinnitus. Relaxation and meditation techniques help a patient reduce stress, a large contributor to tinnitus. Exercises that increase your heart rate not only keep your heart strong and weight in check, but also boost blood circulation in your body, including your ears, to help reduce the ringing.
To relieve your tinnitus symptoms, you can exercise alone or seek professional guidance. Whether you choose to work out in the comfort of your home or in a studio setting, regular exercise and mindfulness practice is always a good idea for the benefit of your overall health.
There are also some exercises specific to relieving the symptoms of tinnitus. These include:
Exercise 1: Sit up straight and lower your chin to your chest. Intertwine your fingers and place your joined hands on the back of your head, then pull your head back while allowing your fingers to prevent the motion. Do not overexert yourself and repeat this exercise three to five times daily to help relax your spinal cord.
Exercise 2: Open your jaw as wide as possible, and while in this position, touch the roof of your mouth with the tip of your tongue. Move the tip of your tongue backward towards your tonsils and hold for a few seconds, then stick your tongue out as far as you can and hold. Repeat this exercise four or five times.
Exercise 3: Sit up straight and move your chin up and down 20 times in a nodding motion. Then move your chin side to side 20 times as if shaking your head. Repeat this exercise three times and be mindful that you do not strain your neck.
Exercise 4: Stand in front of a mirror and hold your chin in both hands. Open your mouth wide and touch the tip of your tongue to the top of your mouth and slowly move your jaw up and down. Add slight resistance to your jaw using your hands and repeat the motion for one minute straight. This exercise may be repeated three times daily.
Exercise 5: Sit up straight and open your jaws wide, but keep them relaxed. With your mouth open, tilt your head back until you are looking up at the ceiling, inhale deeply and then exhale slowly before returning to the starting position.
Related: Tinnitus diet: Foods to eat and to avoid for managing tinnitus
Jaw exercises for tinnitus
Max opening: Open your mouth as wide as possible. Using your hand, pull your chin down to open your mouth even wider. Hold this position for 30 seconds. It is advised not to do this exercise when feeling acute tinnitus pain. When you have a comfortable moment, repeat this exercise four times over four daily sessions.
Lateral movement: With your mouth relaxed and slightly open, move your jaw slightly from side to side as far as you can. Next, used a closed fist against your jaw to move it further in either right or left. When applying this additional pressure, hold each option for 30 seconds. Repeat four times in four daily sessions.
Midline exercise: While sitting in front of a mirror, clench down on your teeth, paying attention to the position of the two midline teeth of your lower jaw. Now, slowly open your mouth while attempting to keep the two teeth centered without moving your jaw to the left or right. Repeat this exercise about 10 times daily.
Yoga exercises for tinnitus
Yoga helps to enhance the circulation of blood throughout the body, reducing stress and strain. The following yoga poses are designed to help relax the muscles of the head and body. Each pose can be done for one to five minutes. If specific poses are too difficult, it’s ok to stick with ones that are your favorites and incorporate them into your nightly routine. Poses you can choose from include:
Jan Sirsasana (head-to-knee pose)
- Sit on the floor or bed with legs extended straight in front of you and knees bent if necessary to keep the spine from rounding.
- Bend the right knee and open up the hip (making a “number four” with your legs) bringing the sole of your right foot to your left inner thigh. Try to keep the right knee down
- Inhale and lengthen the spine.
- Exhale as you bend forward from the hips over the left leg, keeping the spine and neck long, and place the hands on either side of the left leg as you look in the direction of your left foot and breath in and out slowly.
- Repeat on the other side.
Baddha Konasana (bound angle pose)
- Sit on the floor or bed without slouching or bending forward and bring both soles of the feet together in front of you. Hold your feet or ankles with your hands.
- If comfortable enough, bring your feet as close as you can toward your groin without rounding the lower back.
- Inhale and lengthen the spine.
- Exhale and bend forward from the hips, keeping the spine line. Breath in and out as you feel your muscles relaxing.
- Lie on your back and bring the knees into the chest.
- Extend the left arm to the side at shoulder height, palm facing up.
- Keeping the knees high, slowly bring them out to the right until they reach the floor or bed.
- Place the right hand on top of the right knee, you can use the right-hand massage the outer left leg and hip.
- Gaze straight up at the ceiling or slightly to the left.
- Repeat on the other side.
Neck exercises for tinnitus
Performing neck exercises can help those with tinnitus, especially those whose neck problems/muscular tension contribute to their tinnitus symptoms. Simply adhere to the following exercise maneuvers.
- Lay on the floor with your back and head on the ground.
- Calming being “nodding” with your head. Your head does not need to reach your chest. Do this as many times as you can.
- Now repeat this maneuver sideways by moving your head from side to side as many times as you desire.
It is recommended to start slow when first starting these exercises. Stretch the neck before starting any exercise to ensure you don’t over extenuate yourself.