Whether you hear it occasionally or it’s with you all day and night, the ringing of tinnitus is annoying. Maybe annoying isn’t the right word. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk aggravating and downright frustrating might be better. That sound that you can’t get rid of is an issue however you choose to describe it. So what can be done? Is even possible to prevent that ringing in your ears?
Know Why You Have Tinnitus And Exactly What it is
Begin by finding out more about the condition that is causing the ringing, clicking, buzzing, or roaring you hear. It’s estimated as much as 10 percent of the U.S. population experiences tinnitus, which is the medical name for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus is a symptom of something else, not a condition in and of itself. For many people, that something else is hearing loss. Hearing decline regularly comes with tinnitus as a side effect. Why tinnitus happens when there is a change in a person’s hearing is still unclear. That the brain is producing the noise to fill the void is the present theory.
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 coming through a vent or the spinning blades of a ceiling fan are less obvious. You don’t really hear these sounds, but that’s only because your brain decides you don’t need to.
The main point is, hearing these sounds is “normal” for your brain. If half of those sounds are shut off, what happens then? Confusion takes place in the part of the brain that hears sound. Your brain is aware that the sound should be there so it’s possible that it creates the noises associated with tinnitus to compensate.
Hearing loss isn’t the only possible cause of tinnitus, however. It can be attributed to severe health issues like:
- Head or neck tumors
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Turbulent blood flow
- High blood pressure
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Head or neck trauma
- Meniere’s disease
- A reaction to medication
- Poor circulation
Any of these can cause tinnitus. You might get the ringing despite the fact that you hear fine or possibly after an injury or accident. Before you go looking for other ways to get rid of it, you need to see a doctor to get a hearing exam.
What Can be Done About Tinnitus?
You need to understand why you have it before you can begin to determine what to do about it. In some cases, the only thing that helps is to give the brain what it wants. If tinnitus is due to the lack of sound, create some. A sound as simple as a fan running in the background may produce enough sound to shut off the ringing, it doesn’t have to be much.
There is also technology made just for this purpose such as white noise machines. They simulate soothing natural sounds such as rain falling or ocean waves. You can hear the sound when you sleep if you get one with pillow speakers.
Getting hearing aids is also a good option. 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 produced by the brain.
For most people, the solution is a combination of tricks. Using a white noise generator at night and wearing hearing aids during the day are examples of this strategy.
There are also medications available if soft sounds are not effective or if the tinnitus is more severe. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can quite this noise.
Lifestyle Changes to Manage Your Tinnitus
Changing your lifestyle a little bit will help as well. Begin by determining what the triggers are. Keep a diary and make a note of what’s going on when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- What did you just eat?
- Is there a specific sound that is triggering it?
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- Did you just have a soda or a cup of coffee?
Be very precise when you record the information and pretty soon you will notice the patterns that trigger the ringing. Stress can also be responsible, so try to find ways to relax like exercise, meditation or even biofeedback.
An Ounce of Prevention
Take the appropriate steps to prevent tinnitus in the first place. Protect your hearing as much as possible by:
- Using ear protection when around loud noises
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Turning the volume down on everything
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
That means you have to eat healthily, get plenty of exercise and take high blood pressure medication if it’s prescribed. Lastly, schedule a hearing exam to rule out treatable issues that increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes with it.