The ringing of tinnitus will be annoying whether or not you just hear it once in a while or all of the time. Annoying might not be the right word. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk infuriating? That noise that you can’t turn off is an issue no matter how you decide to describe it. So what can be done? Is even possible to stop that ringing in your ears?
Know What Tinnitus Is And Why You Have it
Start by finding out more about the condition that is causing the buzzing, ringing, clicking 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 per se is not a condition but a sign of something else. That something else is hearing loss for many people. 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 not clear. The current theory is the brain generates the noise to fill a void.
Every day you experience thousands, possibly even hundreds of thousands of sounds. Some noticeable examples are car horns, the radio, and people talking. The sound of air coming through a vent or the rotating blades of a ceiling fan are less noticeable. You don’t normally hear these sounds, but that’s only because your brain decides you don’t need to.
The point is, hearing these sounds is “normal” for your brain. Now, what happens if you turn half of those sounds off? It becomes perplexing for the portion of your brain that hears sound. It may generate the phantom tinnitus sounds to fill in the blanks because it recognizes sound should be there.
Hearing loss isn’t the only possible cause of tinnitus, though. Severe health problems can also be the cause, like:
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Head or neck tumors
- Meniere’s disease
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Turbulent blood flow
- Head or neck trauma
- High blood pressure
- A reaction to medication
- Poor circulation
Tinnitus can be caused by any of these things. You might experience the ringing even though you hear fine or possibly after an injury or accident. Before you look for other ways to get rid of it, you need to consult a doctor to get a hearing exam.
What Can be Done About Tinnitus?
When you find out why you have it, you can determine 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, generate some. Something as basic as a fan running in the background might generate enough sound to turn off the ringing, it doesn’t have to be much.
A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is made specifically for this purpose. They simulate a natural sound that is soothing like the ocean waves or falling rain. You can hear the sound when you sleep if you get one with pillow speakers.
Hearing aids also work. With quality hearing aids, you are turning up the volume of the sounds the brain is looking for like the AC running. Hearing aids normalize your hearing enough that the brain has no further need to generate phantom noise.
A combination of tricks works the best for the majority of people. For example, you could use a white noise generator at night and hearing aids during the day.
There are also medications available if soft sounds are not working or if the tinnitus is more severe. Certain antidepressants can quiet this noise, for example, Xanax.
You Have to Change Your Lifestyle if You Want to Manage Your Tinnitus
Changing your lifestyle a little bit can help too. A good starting point is identifying what triggers your tinnitus. Write down in a journal what’s taking place when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- Is there a particular noise that is triggering it?
- What did you just eat?
- Did you just drink a cup of coffee or soda?
Be very precise when you record the information and pretty soon you will see the patterns which trigger the ringing. Stress can also be the cause, so try to find ways to relax like exercise, meditation or even biofeedback.
An Ounce of Prevention
Take the correct steps to prevent tinnitus from the beginning. Protect your hearing as much as you can by:
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Turning the volume down on everything
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Using ear protection when around loud noises
If you have high blood pressure, take your medication. Eat right and exercise as well. Finally, schedule a hearing exam to rule out treatable problems which increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes along with it.