Whether or not it’s only with you occasionally or all of the time, the ringing of tinnitus in your ears is annoying. There might be a more appropriate word than annoying. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk irritating and downright frustrating may fit better. That sound that you can’t get rid of is an issue however you choose to describe it. What can you do, though? How can you stop that ringing in your ears?
Understand 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 experiences tinnitus, which is the medical term for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus per se is not a condition but a sign of something else. For many people, that something else is loss of hearing. Hearing loss often comes along with tinnitus as a side effect. Why tinnitus occurs when there is a change in a person’s hearing is still unclear. That the brain is generating the noise to fill the void is the current theory.
Every day you come across thousands, possibly even hundreds of thousands of sounds. Some noticeable examples are car horns, the radio, and people talking. How about the rotating of the blades on the ceiling fan or the sound of air coming into a vent. These kinds of sound are not typically heard because the brain decides you don’t need to hear them.
The main point is, hearing these sounds is “normal” for your brain. Shut half those sounds off and how would the brain act in response? It becomes confusing for the portion of your brain that hears sound. It is possible that the phantom noises associated with tinnitus are the brain’s way of creating sound for it to interpret because it recognizes it should be there.
Hearing loss isn’t the only possible cause of tinnitus, though. It can be attributed to severe health issues like:
- Head or neck tumors
- Head or neck trauma
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- A reaction to medication
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Turbulent blood flow
- Poor circulation
- High blood pressure
- Meniere’s disease
Tinnitus can be triggered by any of these things. Even though you can hear fine, after an injury or accident, you might still experience this ringing. It’s essential to get checked out by a doctor to determine why you’re experiencing tinnitus before looking for ways to get rid of it.
What to do About Tinnitus
Once you find out why you have it, you can determine what to do about it. Giving the brain what it wants might be the only thing that works. You need to create some sound if your tinnitus is caused by lack of it. A sound as simple as a fan running in the background could create enough sound to switch off the ringing, it doesn’t have to be much.
A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is designed just for this purpose. They imitate calming natural sounds like falling rain or ocean waves. You can hear the sound as you sleep if you buy one with pillow speakers.
Hearing aids also help. You can turn up the sounds that your brain is looking for, like the AC running, with quality hearing aids. Because your hearing is normalized, phantom sounds are no longer created by the brain.
For most people, the solution is a combination of tricks. You might use hearing aids during the day and use a white noise machine at night, for instance.
If the tinnitus is severe and soft sounds don’t work there are also medications available. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can silence this noise.
You Have to Change Your Lifestyle if You Want to Handle Your Tinnitus
Changing your lifestyle a little bit can help too. Determining if there are triggers is a good place to begin. When the tinnitus starts, note what’s happening and write it down in a log. Be specific:
- What did you just eat?
- Did you just have a soda or a cup of coffee?
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- Is there a specific noise that is triggering it?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
The more specific your information, the faster you’ll see the patterns that might be triggering the ringing. You should find ways to relax like biofeedback, exercise, and meditation because stress can also be responsible.
An Ounce of Prevention
Preventing tinnitus from the beginning is the best way to deal with it. Start by doing everything possible to protect your hearing like:
- Turning the volume down on everything
- Using ear protection when you’re going to be around loud noises
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- 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. To rule out treatable problems that increase your risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional.