The ringing of tinnitus is annoying whether you just hear it from time to time or all of the time. Perhaps annoying isn’t the best word. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk irritating? However you choose to describe that sound that you can’t seem to turn off, it’s an issue. What can you do, though? How can you 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 experiences tinnitus, which is the medical term for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus itself is not a condition but a symptom of something else. That something else is hearing loss for many. Hearing decline typically comes with tinnitus as a side effect. It’s not really evident why tinnitus happens when there is a decline in a person’s hearing. That the brain is producing the noise to fill the void is the current theory.
Every single day you experience thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of sounds. There are the obvious sounds like a motor running or someone shouting, and then there are sounds you don’t notice. The sound of air coming through a vent or the rotating blades of a ceiling fan are less obvious. You don’t really 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. Shut half those sounds off and how would the brain respond? The portion of your brain in control of hearing gets bewildered. It might generate the phantom tinnitus noises to compensate because it knows sound should be there.
Hearing loss isn’t the only possible cause of tinnitus, though. It can be attributed to severe health issues like:
- Poor circulation
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Head or neck tumors
- A reaction to medication
- Meniere’s disease
- Turbulent blood flow
- High blood pressure
- Head or neck trauma
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
Any of these can trigger tinnitus. You might get the ringing despite the fact that you hear fine or after an injury or accident. Before searching for other ways to get rid of it, you need to see a doctor for a hearing exam.
What Can be Done About Tinnitus?
You need to find out why you have it before you can start to determine what to do about it. In some cases, the only thing that helps is to give the brain what it wants. If the lack of sound is the cause of your tinnitus, you need to generate some. It doesn’t have to be much, something as simple as a fan running in the background could generate enough noise to turn off the ringing.
A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is made just for this purpose. They imitate a natural sound that is soothing like the ocean waves or falling rain. Some have pillow speakers, so you hear the sound as you sleep.
Another thing which also works well is hearing aids. With quality hearing aids, you are turning up the volume of the sounds the brain is looking for like the AC running. Because your hearing is normalized, phantom sounds are no longer created by the brain.
A combination of tricks works best for most people. For example, you might use a white noise generator at night and hearing aids during the day.
If the tinnitus is severe and soft sounds won’t work there are also medications that you can get. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can silence this noise.
You Have to Alter Your Lifestyle if You Want to Manage Your Tinnitus
Making a few lifestyle changes can help, as well. Start by determining if there are triggers. Keep a record and make a note of what’s going on when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:
- Is there a specific sound that is triggering it?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- What did you just eat?
- Are you drinking alcohol or smoking a cigarette?
- 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. You should find ways to relax like biofeedback, exercise, and meditation because stress can also be responsible.
An Ounce of Prevention
Take the appropriate steps to prevent tinnitus in the first place. Protect your hearing as much as possible by:
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Turning down the volume on everything
- Using ear protection when you’re going to be around loud noises
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
If you have high blood pressure, take your medication. Eat right and exercise also. Lastly, schedule a hearing exam to rule out treatable issues that increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes with it.