Whether it’s only with you periodically or all of the time, the ringing of tinnitus in your ears is annoying. Perhaps annoying isn’t the right word. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk irritating? That sound that you can’t turn off is a problem no matter how you choose to describe it. Can anything be done? How can you stop that ringing in your ears?
Know Why You Have Tinnitus And Exactly What it is
Begin by learning more about the condition that is causing the buzzing, ringing, clicking 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 per se is not a condition but a symptom of something else. For many people, that something else is hearing loss. Tinnitus is a common side effect of hearing decline. It’s not really evident why tinnitus happens when there is a decline in a person’s hearing. The current theory is the brain generates the noise to fill a void.
Thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of sounds are encountered each day. Some obvious examples are car horns, the radio, and people talking. The sound of air blowing through a vent or the rotating blades of a ceiling fan are not so obvious. Your brain decides you don’t really need to hear these sounds.
It’s “normal” for your brain to hear these sounds, is the point. Shut half those sounds off and how would the brain respond? It becomes perplexing for the part of your brain that hears sound. Your brain is aware that the sound should be there so it’s possible that it generates the sounds associated with tinnitus to compensate.
There are also other possible causes of tinnitus, however. Severe health problems can also be the cause, such as:
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- High blood pressure
- Meniere’s disease
- Head or neck tumors
- Head or neck trauma
- A reaction to medication
- Turbulent blood flow
- Poor circulation
Any of these things can trigger tinnitus. You might experience the ringing even though you hear fine or after an injury or accident. Before you look for other methods of dealing with it, you should consult a doctor to have a hearing exam.
What Can be Done About Tinnitus?
Once you discover why you have it, you can determine what to do about it. Sometimes, the only thing that works is to give the brain what it wants. If the lack of sound is causing your tinnitus, you need to generate some. It doesn’t have to be very much, something as simple as a fan running in the background might generate enough noise to switch off that ringing.
A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is made specifically for this purpose. They imitate a natural sound that is calming such as the ocean waves or rain falling. You can hear the sound when you sleep if you buy one with pillow speakers.
Hearing aids also do the trick. With quality hearing aids, you are turning up the volume of the sounds the brain is listening for like the AC running. Because your hearing is normalized, phantom sounds are no longer generated by the brain.
A combination of tricks works the best for most people. You could wear hearing aids during the day and use a white noise machine at night, for example.
There are also medications that you can get if soft sounds are not successful or if the tinnitus is more severe. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can quite this noise.
Manage You Tinnitus With Lifestyle Changes
Making a few lifestyle changes can help, as well. Figuring out if there are triggers is a good place to start. When the tinnitus starts, note what’s going on and write it down in a journal. Be specific:
- Did you just drink a cup of coffee or soda?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- Are you drinking alcohol or smoking a cigarette?
- What did you just eat?
- Is there a specific sound that is triggering it?
The more accurate your information, the faster you’ll see the patterns that could be triggering the ringing. Stress can also be the cause, so look for ways to relax such as exercise, meditation or even biofeedback.
An Ounce of Prevention
Preventing tinnitus in the first place is the best way to deal with it. Protect your hearing as much as possible by:
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Turning down the volume on everything
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Wearing ear protection when around loud noises
If you have high blood pressure, take your medication. Eat right and exercise also. To eliminate treatable issues that increase your risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional.