Regardless of whether you hear it occasionally or it’s with you all day and night, the ringing of tinnitus is annoying. Perhaps annoying isn’t the right word. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk irritating? However you decide to describe that sound that you can’t seem to turn off, it’s a problem. What can you do, though? How can you prevent that ringing in your ears?
Understand Why You Have Tinnitus And Exactly What it is
Start by learning more about the condition that is responsible for the clicking, ringing, buzzing, or roaring you hear. It’s estimated as much as 10 percent of the U.S. population endures tinnitus, which is the medical term for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus per se is not a condition but a sign of something else. Loss of hearing is often the leading cause of tinnitus. Hearing decline typically comes with tinnitus as a side effect. When there is a change in a person’s hearing, it is still unclear why tinnitus occurs. That the brain is creating the noise to fill the void is the present theory.
You experience thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of sounds each day. Some obvious examples are car horns, the radio, and people talking. The sound of air blowing through a vent or the spinning blades of a ceiling fan are not so noticeable. Your brain decides you don’t really need to hear these sounds.
It’s “normal” for your brain to hear these sounds, is the point. So what happens if you turn half of those sounds off? Confusion takes place in the portion of the brain that hears sound. It might be possible that the phantom sounds that come with tinnitus are its way of generating sound for it to interpret because it knows it should be there.
Hearing loss isn’t the only possible cause of tinnitus, however. It can be attributed to severe health issues like:
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Turbulent blood flow
- Head or neck trauma
- A reaction to medication
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Poor circulation
- Head or neck tumors
- High blood pressure
- Meniere’s disease
Tinnitus can be caused by any of these things. You may get the ringing despite the fact that you hear fine or possibly after an injury or accident. It’s essential to get get a hearing exam to determine why you’re experiencing tinnitus before looking for ways to get rid of it.
Can Anything be Done About Tinnitus?
You can figure out what to do about it after you determine why you have it. Giving the brain what it wants might be the only thing that helps. If tinnitus is due to the lack of sound, create some. It doesn’t have to be much, something as simple as a fan running in the background may generate enough sound to turn off the ringing.
A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is designed specifically for this purpose. They imitate calming natural sounds such as falling rain or ocean waves. Some include pillow speakers, so you hear the sound when you sleep.
Investing in hearing aids is also a good solution. The sounds the brain is listening for can be turned up using quality hearing aids. The brain has no further need to produce phantom noises because hearing aids normalize your hearing.
For the majority of people, the answer is a combination of tricks. You might wear hearing aids during the day and use a white noise machine at night, for example.
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 quite this noise.
Lifestyle Changes to Manage Your Tinnitus
Making a few lifestyle modifications will help, as well. Determining if there are triggers is a good place to start. Write down in a journal what’s going on when the tinnitus begins. Be specific:
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- Is there a particular noise that is triggering it?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- Did you just drink a soda or a cup of coffee?
- What did you just eat?
You will begin to see the patterns that trigger the ringing if you record the information very specifically. You should find ways to relax like biofeedback, exercise, and meditation because stress can also be the cause.
An Ounce of Prevention
Take the correct steps to prevent tinnitus in the first place. Start by doing everything possible to protect your hearing like:
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Turning down the volume on everything
- Wearing ear protection when around loud noises
If you have high blood pressure, take your medication. Eat right and exercise also. To rule out treatable issues which increase your risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional.