Tinnitus causes a hugely distressing constant ringing in the ears and is fairly common – up to one in six people develop it at some point, and about one in 100 find their life really disrupted by it. Sufferers describe ringing, whistling, buzzing, roaring or humming – the common theme is an abnormal noise coming not from outside but from inside the head. It can be brought on by hearing damage from loud noise, but often no cause is found. It can’t be cured, but that certainly doesn’t mean it can’t be treated.
Tinnitus tends to be worse in quiet surroundings, so simply having pleasant background noise to distract your brain can help hugely. It may be worth considering a ‘sound generator’, which you wear like a hearing aid. If your symptoms are very distressing, tinnitus retraining therapy helps about three-quarters of people.
According to Dr Bernard Brom, ginkgo biloba has been used successfully to treat ringing in the ears. In one trial there was a statistical reduction in sound volume after 10 weeks. No change was noted in the placebo group.1
A study published in the Journal of Personalized Medicine suggests that low-level infrared light therapy may provide relief for tinnitus. The study involved over 100 participants with tinnitus and divided them into different groups to evaluate personalized treatment options.
The therapy involved using red and infrared light in the inner ear or cochlea, where tinnitus often occurs. Low-level infrared light therapy promotes tissue regeneration, reduces inflammation, and relieves pain. The study found that treatments involving infrared light therapy were superior to placebos, and lasting therapeutic effectiveness was observed even after the treatment.
The study also suggested that focusing the therapy on the cochlea and middle ear for an increased duration showed the most significant results. As tinnitus currently has no approved treatment or cure, this is excellent news! Also see our article on Neurosoma for tinnitus.