Is tinnitus curable?
No, there is no cure for tinnitus. It is connected to a malfunction in the neurons which turn the signals from the ear into the perception of hearing. The usual cause is that the inner ear is damaged, and nobody knows how to repair this organ. You have to accept the idea that it will almost certainly stay with you for the rest of your life.
What can you do about tinnitus?
The German association for ENT, Head and Neck surgery classifies tinnitus as:
grade I: Does not cause suffering
grade II: Noticed primary during silence, only interferes during stressful moments and psychic load
grade III: Causes persistent impairment in the private or professional life, with interference in the emotional, cognitive and body areas
grade IV: Causes full decompensation in the private area and inability to work
The goal of the existing therapies is not to remove the tinnitus, but to lower it to grade II or I. They usually consist of a combination of relaxation techniques, mental relaxation (meditation, cognitive therapy) which allows you to concentrate on other things without being bothered by tinnitus, and music therapy, which trains your auditory perception to discriminate more between sounds and focus less on the tinnitus sound. After a successful therapy, sufferers of permanent tinnitus can tolerate the tinnitus well, sometimes forgetting it for hours at a time, while sufferers of episodic tinnitus can have less frequent episodes. The subjective loudness of the tinnitus can also go down.
Tinnitus itself is not treatable, but most of its consequences are, for example sleep problems, depression, speech understanding difficulties, hyperacusis or tensions in the neck area. If they occur, don't hesitate to seek help for them.
Where to go for help
Tinnitus requires specialized cross-disciplinary knowledge in ENT, neurology and psychiatry. "Standard" ENT doctors are rarely well versed in tinnitus. Your first place to go with acute tinnitus is still the ENT, who can confirm the diagnosis and exclude other, more pressing problems. In the long term, you are much better off going to a clinic specializing in inner ear disorders, or even a pure tinnitus clinic. This type of clinic can also diagnose other, not yet detected types of inner ear damage. Find out if there is a local patient group for tinnitus or hearing loss, and ask them which clinic to go to. They can give you the best regional advice. Also consider becoming a member of your national association for tinnitus, such as Deutsche Tinnitus Liga or American tinnitus association. They are an excellent source for news about promising research.
As far as I'm aware, my preferred book about tinnitus is not yet translated into English, but I can recommend it for anybody who reads German. It is written by the director of a clinic specializing in inner ear disorders and his senior physician who is a tinnitus patient himself. If you are researching literature on tinnitus, don't fall for the popular books which promise a miracle healing. I have never met a patient for whom they delivered.