Whether or not you hear it occasionally or it’s with you all day and night, the ringing of tinnitus is annoying. Annoying might not be the best 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 stop that ringing in your ears?
Understand 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 endures tinnitus, which is the medical name for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus is a symptom of something else, not a condition itself. That something else is hearing loss for many people. Hearing decline typically comes along with tinnitus as a side effect. Why tinnitus happens when there is a change in a person’s hearing is still not well understood. The latest theory is the brain creates the noise to fill a void.
Thousands, possibly even hundreds of thousands of sounds are encountered each day. There are the obvious sounds like a motor running or someone yelling, and then there are sounds you don’t even notice. The sound of air blowing 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 main point is, hearing these sounds is “normal” for your brain. Turn half those sounds off and how would the brain act in response? The portion of your brain in control of hearing gets confused. It is possible that the phantom noises that come with tinnitus are the brain’s way of generating sound for it to interpret because it knows it should be there.
Tinnitus has other possible causes as well. It can be attributed to severe health issues like:
- Turbulent blood flow
- Poor circulation
- Head or neck trauma
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- High blood pressure
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- A reaction to medication
- Head or neck tumors
- Meniere’s disease
Any of these can trigger tinnitus. After an injury or accident, even though you can hear fine, you could experience this ringing. Before you look for other methods of dealing with it, you should schedule an appointment with a doctor to get a hearing exam.
Can Anything be Done About Tinnitus?
You need to know why you have it before you can start to figure out what to do about it. Giving the brain what it wants may be the only thing that helps. If the lack of sound is causing your tinnitus, you need to generate some. The ringing might 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 designed just for this purpose. They imitate a natural sound that is soothing like the ocean waves or rain falling. You can hear the sound as you sleep if you buy one with pillow speakers.
Investing in hearing aids is also a good option. The sounds the brain is looking for can be turned up using quality hearing aids. Hearing aids normalize your hearing enough that the brain no longer needs to produce phantom noise.
For the majority of 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 approach.
There are also medications available if soft sounds are not successful or if the tinnitus is severe. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can quite this noise.
Handle You Tinnitus With Lifestyle Changes
Modifying your lifestyle a little bit will help too. Figuring out if there are triggers is a good place to begin. Write down in a journal what’s going on when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:
- Is there a particular sound that is triggering it?
- What did you just eat?
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- Did you just have a soda or a cup of coffee?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
The more precise your information, the faster you’ll see the patterns that might be inducing 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
Take the appropriate steps to prevent tinnitus in the first place. Begin by doing everything you can to protect your hearing like:
- Using ear protection when around loud noises
- Turning the volume down on everything
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
That means eat healthily, get lots of exercise and take high blood pressure medication if it’s prescribed. To eliminate treatable issues that increase your risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional.