Can Tinnitus Be Cured?

Tinnitus is a condition characterised by persistent ringing or buzzing in the ears that affects millions of people worldwide. This unwelcome noise can range from a minor nuisance to a debilitating issue, significantly impacting your quality of life. Given how distressing it can be, it's no shock that people often ask: can tinnitus be cured?

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is not a disease itself but a symptom of an underlying condition. These underlying conditions can include age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder. The ongoing noise that people with tinnitus hear actually comes from within their own auditory system.

While there is no definitive cure for tinnitus just yet, many treatments and strategies are available that can help manage the symptoms and enhance one's quality of life. These approaches focus on reducing the perception of tinnitus or help cope with the noise more effectively.

  • Hearing Aids: Many people with tinnitus also suffer from hearing loss. Hearing aids can amplify external sounds, which can help mask the internal noises caused by tinnitus.
  • Sound Therapy: This involves using external noises to mask the tinnitus sounds. White noise machines, fans, or customised sound generators can provide relief, especially during quiet times or while trying to sleep.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of counselling that helps individuals change their reactions to tinnitus. While it doesn't reduce the noise itself, it can help reduce the distress and improve coping strategies.
  • Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT): TRT combines sound therapy with counselling. The goal is to help the brain habituate to the tinnitus sounds, making them less noticeable over time.
  • Medications: While no specific drug can cure tinnitus, certain medications can help reduce the severity of symptoms. These might include antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications.
  • Lifestyle and Home Remedies: Stress management techniques, avoiding loud noises, and reducing caffeine and alcohol intake can also help manage tinnitus symptoms.

Emerging Research and Future Prospects

Research into tinnitus is ongoing, with scientists exploring various avenues to find a potential cure. Some of the promising areas of research include:

  1. Neuromodulation: Techniques like transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) aim to alter neural activity in the brain. Early studies suggest that these methods might help reduce tinnitus symptoms.
  2. Stem Cell Therapy: Researchers are investigating whether stem cells could repair damaged auditory cells and alleviate tinnitus. This is still in the experimental stages, but it holds potential for future treatments.
  3. Pharmacological Solutions: Scientists are working on developing drugs that target the neural pathways involved in tinnitus. These could potentially reduce or eliminate the perception of tinnitus.
  4. Genetic Research: Understanding the genetic factors that contribute to tinnitus could lead to personalised treatments and, eventually, a cure.

When to See a Doctor

If you're experiencing tinnitus, it's important to know when to seek professional help. While occasional ringing in the ears isn't usually a cause for concern, this is when you should probably see a doctor:

  • Persistent Symptoms
    If the ringing or buzzing in your ears persists for more than a week, it's a good idea to consult a doctor. Chronic tinnitus can be a sign of an underlying condition that needs attention. 
  • Sudden Onset
    If you suddenly develop tinnitus, especially if it's in one ear, it's crucial to see a doctor immediately. This can sometimes indicate a more serious issue that requires prompt treatment.
  • Hearing Loss
    If you notice any degree of hearing loss along with tinnitus, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. Hearing loss can be associated with various conditions that might need medical intervention.
  • Dizziness or Balance Problems
    Tinnitus accompanied by dizziness or balance issues can be a sign of inner ear problems or other medical conditions that need to be evaluated.
  • Impact on Daily Life
    If tinnitus is affecting your sleep, concentration, or overall quality of life, don't hesitate to seek help. There are treatments and strategies available that can significantly improve your situation.
  • Pain or Discharge
    If you experience ear pain or discharge from your ears along with tinnitus, see a doctor. These symptoms could indicate an infection or other medical condition that requires treatment.

Diagnostic Tests for Tinnitus

With any sickness, understanding the underlying cause is essential for effective treatment. Several diagnostic tests can help determine the source of your tinnitus and assess the overall health of your auditory system. Here are some common diagnostic tests used to evaluate tinnitus:

Pure Tone Audiometry

Pure tone audiometry is a basic subjective hearing test used to assess your ability to hear various sounds at different frequencies. This test helps identify the presence and extent of hearing loss, which can be associated with tinnitus.

  • The test: You will sit in a soundproof booth with headphones on and press a button every time you hear a bleep sound, even if it is very faint. Ignore any rushing sounds used to mask the opposite ear and focus only on the bleeps. This test usually takes about 20 minutes, depending on the results.


Tympanometry is an objective test that evaluates the function of your middle ear. It can help detect:

  • Fluid or congestion in the middle ear
  • Perforations (holes) in the eardrum
  • Weak or flaccid eardrum
  • Discontinuity of the ossicles (middle ear bones) due to disease or trauma
  • Blocked grommets
  • Fistulas (defects) in the bone surrounding the labyrinth (balance organ) indicated by dizziness

For this test, you simply need to sit still while the audiologist holds a soft rubber probe at the entrance of your ear canal. You may feel a slight change in pressure in your ear.

Stapedial Reflexes

This objective test checks whether the stapedius muscle in your middle ear is functioning properly. The stapedius muscle helps stabilise the hearing bones in response to loud sounds, providing a protective mechanism.

  • The test: Similar to tympanometry, you will sit still while the audiologist holds a soft rubber probe at the entrance of your ear canal. You will hear a series of very loud bleeps, but you do not need to respond to them.

Living with Tinnitus

While the search for a cure continues, many people with tinnitus find ways to live with the condition and maintain a good quality of life. Education and support play a key role here. Joining a support group, whether in-person or online, can provide valuable emotional support and practical advice.

If you're experiencing tinnitus symptoms, consider booking an appointment with us for a comprehensive evaluation. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

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The Harley Street ENT clinic in London can provide all of the care that you need when you have an ear, nose, throat or balance problem. We ensure that you can get all of the right tests, treatments and advice in one convenient place.