Effective management of tinnitus often depends on the type of tinnitus you have.

The vast majority of tinnitus suffers have subjective tinnitus, ringing in ears that often cannot be fixed. This type can usually be managed.

Objective tinnitus, on the other hand, can often be cured in its entirety. For those whose “buzzing, ringing, whistling” is caused by a buildup or earwax or a punctured eardrum, the path to clear sound is often as simple as fixing the underlying problem.

An easy way to distinguish between the two is by determining who can hear the noise. If it’s only the patient, then it’s subjective. If the tinnitus can be heard or measured by others (often through hearing instruments), then it’s objective tinnitus. Objective tinnitus sounds “are usually produced by internal functions in the body’s circulatory (blood flow) and somatic (musculo-skeletal movement) systems.”

There are many treatment options for subjective tinnitus. Many doctors recommend limiting intake of caffeine or alcohol and reducing stress. Auditory habituation or tinnitus retraining therapy is another method, and involves a device or hearing aid that produces a low level sound alongside the ringing in order to desensitize. This is similar to acoustic therapy, which – through the use of hearing aids or sound generators – masks any annoying tinnitus sounds.

Don’t hesitate to talk to talk to your audiologist if you’re having problems with any ringing in your ears. Tinnitus is often a symptom of another problem, so it’s best to get it checked out by a medical professional.