The ringing of tinnitus is annoying whether you only hear it occasionally or all of the time. Maybe 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 get rid of is an issue no matter how you choose to describe it. Can anything be done? Is even possible to prevent that ringing in your ears?
Understand What Tinnitus Is And Why You Have it
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. That something else is hearing loss for many people. Tinnitus is a side effect of hearing decline. It’s not really clear why tinnitus appears when there is a decline in a person’s hearing. That the brain is generating the sound to fill the void is the current theory.
Thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of sounds are encountered each day. Some noticeable 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 not as noticeable. You don’t normally hear these sounds, but that’s only because your brain decides you don’t need to.
It’s “normal” for your brain to hear these sounds, is the point. 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. Your brain is aware that the sound should be there so it’s possible that it produces the noises associated with tinnitus to fill in the blanks.
Tinnitus has other possible causes as well. Severe health problems can also be the cause, like:
- Meniere’s disease
- Poor circulation
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Head or neck trauma
- Head or neck tumors
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- High blood pressure
- A reaction to medication
- Turbulent blood flow
Any of these things can cause tinnitus. After an injury or accident, even though you can hear fine, you may experience this ringing. It’s important to get checked out by a doctor to find out why you have tinnitus before looking for ways to get rid of it.
What to do About Tinnitus
You need to understand why you have it before you can start to determine what to do about it. The only thing that works, sometimes, is to give the brain what it wants. If the lack of sound is the cause of your tinnitus, you need to generate some. Something as simple as a fan running in the background might produce enough noise to switch off the ringing, it doesn’t need to be much.
A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is designed just for this purpose. They imitate soothing natural sounds like falling rain or ocean waves. Some come with pillow speakers, so you hear the sound when you sleep.
Hearing aids also do the trick. 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.
A combination of tricks works the best for the majority of people. You might wear hearing aids during the day and use a white noise machine at night, for example.
If soft sounds aren’t helping or if the tinnitus is severe, there are medications that could help. Certain antidepressants can silence this noise, for example, Xanax.
You Have to Alter Your Lifestyle if You Want to Handle Your Tinnitus
It will also help if you make a few lifestyle modifications. A good starting point is figuring out what triggers your tinnitus. When the tinnitus starts, note what’s going on and write it down in a log. Be specific:
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- What did you just eat?
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- Did you just drink a cup of coffee or soda?
- Is there a specific sound that is triggering it?
The more specific your information, the faster you’ll notice the patterns that might be triggering the ringing. Stress can also be responsible, so look for ways to relax such as exercise, meditation or even biofeedback.
An Ounce of Prevention
Take the appropriate steps to prevent tinnitus from the start. Begin by doing everything possible to protect your hearing like:
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Turning down the volume on everything
- Wearing ear protection when around loud noises
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
Eat right, exercise, and if you have high blood pressure, take your medication. To eliminate treatable issues which increase your risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional.