Regardless of whether you hear it periodically or it’s with you all day and night, the ringing of tinnitus is annoying. There may be a more suitable word than annoying. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk irritating? No matter what the description, that noise that you can’t turn off is a big problem in your life. Can anything be done? Is even possible to stop that ringing in your ears?
What is Tinnitus And Why do You Have it?
Begin by learning 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 is a symptom of something else, not a condition in and of itself. For many people, that something else is loss of hearing. Tinnitus is a common result of hearing decline. It’s not really clear why tinnitus appears when there is a change in a person’s hearing. That the brain is producing the noise to fill the void is the current theory.
You encounter thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of sounds every single day. Some noticeable examples are car horns, the radio, and people talking. What about the turning of the blades on the ceiling fan or the sound of air blowing through a vent. You don’t really hear these sounds, but that’s only because your brain decides you don’t need to.
The main point is, hearing these sounds is “normal” for your brain. So what happens if you shut half of those sounds off? It becomes bewildering for the portion of your brain that hears sound. It might generate the phantom tinnitus noises to compensate because it realizes sound should be there.
There are also other possible causes of tinnitus, however. It can be linked to severe health problems like:
- A reaction to medication
- Meniere’s disease
- High blood pressure
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Head or neck tumors
- Turbulent blood flow
- Poor circulation
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Head or neck trauma
Tinnitus can be triggered by any of these things. You might experience the ringing despite the fact that you hear fine or possibly after an injury or accident. A hearing exam should be scheduled with a doctor before trying to find another way of dealing with it.
What to do About Tinnitus
Once you know why you have it, you can determine what to do about it. The only thing that works, in many cases, is to give the brain what it wants. You need to generate some sound if your tinnitus is caused by lack of it. It doesn’t need to be much, something as simple as a fan running in the background might generate enough sound to switch off the ringing.
Technology such as a white noise generator is made just for this purpose. They simulate soothing natural sounds such as rain falling or ocean waves. Some have pillow speakers, so you hear the sound when you sleep.
Hearing aids will also do the trick. You can turn up the sounds that your brain is looking for, like the AC running, with quality hearing aids. Hearing aids normalize your hearing enough that the brain no longer needs to generate phantom noise.
For many people, the answer is a combination of tricks. You could use hearing aids during the day and use a white noise machine at night, for instance.
If the tinnitus is more severe and soft sounds don’t work there are also medications that you can get. Certain antidepressants can silence this noise, for example, Xanax.
Lifestyle Changes to Manage Your Tinnitus
Making a few lifestyle changes will help, too. Begin by determining what the triggers are. Keep a record and make a note of what’s happening when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:
- Is there a particular sound that is triggering it?
- What did you just eat?
- Did you just drink a soda or a cup of coffee?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- Are you drinking alcohol or smoking a cigarette?
Be very accurate when you record the information and pretty soon you will notice the patterns that trigger the ringing. Meditation, exercise, and biofeedback can help you avoid stress which can also be responsible.
An Ounce of Prevention
The ideal way to get rid of tinnitus is to protect against it from the beginning. Protect your hearing as much as possible by:
- Using ear protection when around loud noises
- Turning down the volume on everything
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
Eat right, exercise, and if you have high blood pressure, take your medication. Lastly, schedule a hearing exam to rule out treatable issues which increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes along with it.