It doesn’t matter if you hear it periodically or it’s with you all of the time, the ringing of tinnitus is annoying. Annoying might not be the right word. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk irritating? Whatever the description, that noise that you can’t get rid of is a serious issue in your life. Can anything be done? Is even possible to get rid of that ringing in your ears?
What is Tinnitus And Why do You Have it?
Begin by learning more about the condition that is causing 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 itself is not a condition but a sign of something else. Hearing loss is often the leading cause of tinnitus. Hearing loss often comes with tinnitus as a side effect. When there is a change in a person’s hearing, it is still unclear why tinnitus occurs. The latest theory is the brain generates the noise to fill a void.
You experience thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of sounds every single day. Some obvious examples are car horns, the radio, and people talking. What about the turning of the blades on the ceiling fan or the sound of air coming into a vent. These kinds of sound are not normally heard because the brain decides you don’t need to hear them.
It’s “normal” for your brain to hear these sounds, is the point. If half of those sounds are turned off, what happens then? It becomes perplexing for the portion of your brain that hears sound. It might create the phantom tinnitus sounds to fill in the blanks because it realizes sound should be there.
Tinnitus has other possible causes as well. Severe health problems can also be the cause, like:
- Poor circulation
- Head or neck tumors
- High blood pressure
- Turbulent blood flow
- Meniere’s disease
- Head or neck trauma
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- A reaction to medication
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
Any of these things can trigger tinnitus. You might get the ringing even though you hear fine or possibly after an injury or accident. Before looking for other methods of dealing with it, you need to schedule an appointment with a doctor for a hearing exam.
What Can be Done About Tinnitus?
You need to find out why you have it before you can start to figure out what to do about it. In some cases, the only thing that works is to give the brain what it wants. If tinnitus is due to the lack of sound, make some. The ringing may be able to be turned off by something as basic as a fan running in the background.
Technology such as a white noise generator is made just for this purpose. They simulate soothing natural sounds like rain falling or ocean waves. You can hear the sound when you sleep if you get one with pillow speakers.
Another thing which also works is hearing aids. You can turn up the sounds that your brain is listening for, like the AC running, with quality hearing aids. Because your hearing is normalized, phantom sounds are no longer created by the brain.
A combination of tricks works best for the majority of people. For instance, you could use a white noise generator at night and hearing aids during the day.
There are also medications that you can get if soft sounds are not effective or if the tinnitus is severe. Certain antidepressants can silence this noise, for example, Xanax.
You Have to Alter Your Lifestyle if You Want to Handle Your Tinnitus
Changing your lifestyle a little bit can help as well. Identifying if there are triggers is a good place to start. Keep a diary and make a note of what’s going on when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- Did you just have a cup of coffee or soda?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- What did you just eat?
- Is there a particular sound that is triggering it?
Be very accurate when you record the information and pretty soon you will notice the patterns which trigger the ringing. Stress can also be the cause, so look for ways to relax like exercise, meditation or even biofeedback.
An Ounce of Prevention
Take the appropriate steps to prevent tinnitus from the beginning. Protect your hearing as much as you can by:
- Using ear protection when around loud noises
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Turning down the volume on everything
If you have high blood pressure, take your medication. Eat right and exercise also. To eliminate treatable issues which increase your risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional.