The ringing of tinnitus is annoying whether you just hear it occasionally or all of the time. Maybe annoying isn’t the best word. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk infuriating? That sound 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 prevent that ringing in your ears?
Know What Tinnitus Is And Why You Have it
Start by learning 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 experiences tinnitus, which is the medical term for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus is a symptom of something else, not a condition itself. For many, that something else is hearing loss. Hearing decline regularly comes along with tinnitus as a side effect. Why tinnitus comes about when there is a change in a person’s hearing is still not well understood. That the brain is creating the sound to fill the void is the current theory.
Thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of sounds are encountered each day. There is talking, music, car horns, and the TV, as an example, but those are just the noticeable noises. The sound of air coming through a vent or the spinning blades of a ceiling fan are not so obvious. Your brain decides you don’t really need to hear these sounds.
The point is, hearing these sounds is “normal” for your brain. Switch half those sounds off and how would the brain react? It becomes confusing for the part of your brain that hears sound. It might be possible that the phantom sounds associated with tinnitus are its way of generating noise for it to interpret because it knows it should be there.
Hearing loss isn’t the only possible cause of tinnitus, though. Severe health issues can also be the cause, like:
- Meniere’s disease
- Head or neck trauma
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- High blood pressure
- Head or neck tumors
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- A reaction to medication
- Turbulent blood flow
- Poor circulation
Any of these can trigger tinnitus. You may get the ringing despite the fact that you hear fine or after an injury or accident. A hearing exam should be scheduled with a doctor before trying to find other ways to get rid of it.
Can Anything be Done About Tinnitus?
You can decide what to do about it after you determine why you have it. In some cases, the only thing that helps is to give the brain what it wants. If the lack of sound is causing your tinnitus, you need to create some. The ringing may be able to be shut off by something as simple as a fan running in the background.
A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is made just for this purpose. They imitate a natural sound that is calming such as the ocean waves or rain falling. Some have pillow speakers, so you hear the sound when you sleep.
Investing in hearing aids is also a good option. The sounds the brain is looking for can be turned up using quality hearing aids. The brain no longer needs to create phantom noises because hearing aids normalize your hearing.
A combination of tricks is most effective for most people. You might use hearing aids during the day and use a white noise machine at night, for instance.
If the tinnitus is more severe and soft sounds won’t work there are also medications that you can get. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can quite this noise.
You Have to Change Your Lifestyle if You Want to Manage Your Tinnitus
Making a few lifestyle changes will 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:
- Is there a particular sound that is triggering it?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- Did you just have a soda or a cup of coffee?
- What did you just eat?
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
You will start to see the patterns which trigger the ringing if you record the information very accurately. Stress can also be responsible, so look for ways to relax like exercise, meditation or even biofeedback.
An Ounce of Prevention
Take the correct steps to prevent tinnitus in the first place. Protect your hearing as much as you can by:
- Turning the volume down on everything
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Wearing ear protection when you’re going to be around loud noises
That means you have to eat healthily, get plenty of exercise and take high blood pressure medication if it’s prescribed. To rule out treatable issues that increase your risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional.