The ringing of tinnitus can be annoying whether or not you just hear it once in a while or all of the time. There may be a more suitable word than annoying. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk irritating? That noise that you can’t get rid of is a problem however you decide to describe it. What can you do, though? Is even possible to stop that ringing in your ears?
Know What Tinnitus Is And Why You Have it
Begin by finding out more about the condition that is responsible for the clicking, ringing, buzzing, or roaring you hear. It’s estimated as much as 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from tinnitus, which is the medical term for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus is a symptom of something else, not a condition in and of itself. Loss of hearing is often the leading cause of tinnitus. Hearing loss often comes with tinnitus as a side effect. Why tinnitus comes about when there is a change in a person’s hearing is still not clear. That the brain is generating the sound to fill the void is the current theory.
Each and every day you come across thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of sounds. There are the obvious sounds like a motor running or someone shouting, and then there are noises you don’t even notice. The sound of air coming through a vent or the rotating blades of a ceiling fan are not as noticeable. You don’t normally hear these sounds, but that’s only because your brain decides you don’t need to.
It’s “normal” for your brain to hear these sounds, is the point. If half of those sounds are shut off, what happens then? It becomes confusing for the portion of your brain that hears sound. Your brain is aware that the sound should be there so it’s possible that it creates the noises connected with tinnitus to compensate.
Tinnitus has other possible causes as well. Severe health issues can also be the cause, like:
- Poor circulation
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Turbulent blood flow
- Head or neck tumors
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- High blood pressure
- A reaction to medication
- Meniere’s disease
- Head or neck trauma
Any of these can trigger tinnitus. Despite the fact that you can hear fine, after an injury or accident, you may still experience this ringing. It’s important to get get a hearing exam to find out why you have tinnitus before looking for other ways to deal with it.
What Can be Done About Tinnitus?
When you identify why you have it, you can determine what to do about it. The only thing that works, sometimes, is to give the brain what it wants. If tinnitus is caused by the lack of sound, create some. Something as basic as a fan running in the background may generate enough noise to switch off the ringing, it doesn’t need to be much.
Technology such as a white noise generator is made just for this purpose. They simulate a natural sound that is soothing like the ocean waves or rain falling. You can hear the sound when you sleep if you get one with pillow speakers.
Investing in hearing aids is also a good solution. You can turn up the sounds that your brain is looking for, like the AC running, with quality hearing aids. The brain no longer needs to create phantom noises because hearing aids normalize your hearing.
For the majority of people, the answer is a combination of tricks. You might wear hearing aids during the day and use a white noise machine at night, for example.
There are also medications available if soft sounds are not working or if the tinnitus is severe. Certain antidepressants can quiet this noise, for example, Xanax.
Handle You Tinnitus With Lifestyle Changes
Making a few lifestyle modifications can help, as well. A good starting place is figuring out what triggers your tinnitus. Write down in a journal what’s happening when the tinnitus begins. Be specific:
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- What did you just eat?
- Is there a particular noise that is triggering it?
- Did you just drink a cup of coffee or soda?
The more precise your information, the faster you’ll notice the patterns that could be triggering the ringing. Stress can also be responsible, so look for ways to relax including exercise, meditation or even biofeedback.
An Ounce of Prevention
Take the correct steps to prevent tinnitus from the beginning. Protect your hearing as much as you can by:
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Turning the volume down on everything
- Using ear protection when around loud noises
That means you have to eat right, get lots of exercise and take high blood pressure medication if it’s prescribed. Finally, schedule a hearing exam to rule out treatable problems which increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes along with it.