The ringing of tinnitus will be annoying whether you just hear it sometimes or all of the time. There may be a more suitable word than annoying. 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 however you choose to describe it. What can you do, though? Is even possible to get rid of that ringing in your ears?
What is Tinnitus And Why do You Have it?
Start by learning more about the condition that is responsible for the ringing, clicking, 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 name for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus is a symptom of something else, not a condition in and of itself. That something else is loss of hearing for many. Hearing loss often comes along with tinnitus as a side effect. Why tinnitus happens when there is a change in a person’s hearing is still unclear. At this time the theory is that the brain is filling the void by generating noise.
Thousands, perhaps 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 noises you don’t even notice. The sound of air blowing 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.
It’s “normal” for your brain to hear these sounds, is the point. Now, what happens if you shut half of those sounds off? It becomes confusing for the portion of your brain that hears sound. It is possible that the phantom sounds linked with tinnitus are the brains way of producing sound for it to interpret because it knows it should be there.
Hearing loss isn’t the only possible cause of tinnitus, though. It can be connected to severe health problems like:
- Meniere’s disease
- Head or neck tumors
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Turbulent blood flow
- A reaction to medication
- Poor circulation
- High blood pressure
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Head or neck trauma
Any of these things can cause tinnitus. You might get the ringing even though you hear fine or possibly after an injury or accident. A hearing exam should be scheduled with a doctor before trying to find other ways to get rid of it.
What to do About Tinnitus
You can decide what to do about it after you determine why you have it. In some cases, the only thing that works is to give the brain what it wants. You have to generate some sound if your tinnitus is caused by lack of it. The ringing might be able to be turned off by something as simple as a fan running in the background.
Technology such as a white noise generator is made just for this purpose. Ocean waves or falling rain are calming natural sounds which these devices simulate. You can hear the sound when you sleep if you buy one with pillow speakers.
Getting hearing aids is also a good solution. The sounds the brain is listening for can be turned up using quality hearing aids. Because your hearing is normalized, phantom sounds are no longer created by the brain.
A combination of tricks is most effective for the majority of people. Using a white noise generator at night and wearing hearing aids during the day are examples of this strategy.
If soft sounds aren’t helping or if the tinnitus is more severe, there are medications that might help. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can quite this noise.
Lifestyle Changes to Handle Your Tinnitus
Modifying your lifestyle a little bit can help too. A good starting point is determining what triggers your tinnitus. When the tinnitus starts, note what’s going on and write it down in a journal. Be specific:
- Did you just have a cup of coffee or soda?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- What did you just eat?
- Is there a particular noise that is triggering it?
You will start to discover the patterns which trigger the ringing if you record the information very accurately. Meditation, exercise, and biofeedback can help you avoid stress which can also be the cause.
An Ounce of Prevention
Preventing tinnitus from the beginning is the best way to deal with it. Protect your hearing as much as you can by:
- Turning the volume down on everything
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Using ear protection when you’re going to be around loud noises
- 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 rule out treatable issues which increase your risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional.