Tinnitus is a relatively common medical symptom that causes the perception of ringing or noise in the ears. According to the Mayo Clinic, tinnitus affects 1 in 5 people.
This symptom typically shows up in people who have the following conditions:
- Age-related hearing loss
- Ear injury
- System disorder
In addition to hearing ringing, people with the symptom also report hearing:
All these sounds can vary in pitch and loudness. One or both ears can be affected by tinnitus.
Types of tinnitus
The Mayo Clinic reports that there are two types of tinnitus: subjective and objective tinnitus.
Subjective tinnitus: Only the patient can hear this type of tinnitus. This is the most common type of tinnitus and is caused by issues in one’s outer, middle, or inner ear. It can affect hearing nerves, or the auditory pathways.
Objective tinnitus: A doctor can hear this type of tinnitus. It’s caused by a blood vessel problem, middle ear bone condition, or muscle contractions.
How people react to tinnitus
Not surprisingly, people have different reactions toward their tinnitus.
According to a 2011 article in the journal Biological Research for Nursing, some people are just aware of the noise, others are annoyed with it, and some people actually have a hard time hearing because of their tinnitus’ loudness. And unfortunately, some people with the symptom can suffer from psychological symptoms, such as tension, frustration, troubled concentration, and disrupted sleep.
How to sleep with tinnitus
People who experience bothersome tinnitus can seek clinical management. A 2014 article in the journal Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery reports that of the 10 to 15 percent of adults who have tinnitus, 20 percent need clinical intervention. This isn’t surprising, especially because the same journal article states that 10.6 percent of 3,000 adults (between the ages 21 and 84, studied from 2005 to 2008) have trouble sleeping because of their tinnitus. Another 2015 study in the journal BioMed Research International found that 76 percent of research subjects (tinnitus patients) experienced insomnia.
Although there is no current cure for tinnitus, patents who suffer from this symptom can find relief—and get some sound sleep—with the following treatments.
Counseling and sound therapy options
Thankfully, most patients with tinnitus can benefit from tinnitus treatment.
According to the Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery article, people with tinnitus can seek counseling, which can help them process their tinnitus experience. Also, people can benefit from various therapies. According to the article, there’s a variety of non-wearable and wearable sound therapy devices available to patients. These devices, which can play broadband noise or background music at various sound levels, can help many tinnitus sufferers.
Other patients may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy. This therapy can teach patients relaxation techniques and beneficial sleep hygiene practices, as well as educate them about auditory enrichment and exposure to feared stimuli. Another type of therapy people with tinnitus may benefit from is acceptance and commitment therapy.
Another study in the International Tinnitus Journal discovered that some people with idiopathic subjective tinnitus benefit from sound stimulation during sleep. The sound stimulation mimetized the patients’ tinnitus; the sound was set at the patients’ tinnitus’ intensity.