The ringing of tinnitus is annoying whether you only hear it occasionally or all of the time. Perhaps annoying isn’t the correct word. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk irritating? No matter how you choose to describe that noise that you can’t seem to turn off, it’s an issue. So what can be done? Can that ringing really be stopped?
Understand What Tinnitus Is And Why You Have it
Begin by learning more about the condition that is responsible for 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 is a symptom of something else, not a condition itself. For many people, that something else is loss of hearing. Hearing loss often comes with tinnitus as a side effect. It’s not really evident why tinnitus happens when there is a change in a person’s hearing. Presently the theory is that the brain is filling the void by creating noise.
Thousands, possibly even hundreds of thousands of sounds are encountered each day. Some obvious examples are car horns, the radio, and people talking. How about the rotating of the blades on the ceiling fan or the sound of air coming into a vent. Your brain decides you don’t really need to hear these sounds.
The point is, hearing these sounds is “normal” for your brain. Now, what happens if you turn half of those sounds off? Confusion happens in the part of the brain that hears sound. Your brain realizes the sound should be there so it’s possible that it produces the sounds connected with tinnitus to fill in the blanks.
There are also other possible causes of tinnitus, however. Severe health problems can also be the cause, like:
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Head or neck tumors
- Turbulent blood flow
- Poor circulation
- High blood pressure
- Meniere’s disease
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Head or neck trauma
- A reaction to medication
Tinnitus can be caused by any of these. You may get the ringing despite the fact that you hear fine or 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 Can be Done About Tinnitus?
You need to know why you have it before you can begin to figure out what to do about it. Giving the brain what it wants might be the only thing that helps. If the lack of sound is the cause of your tinnitus, you need to generate some. Something as basic as a fan running in the background might generate enough sound to switch off the ringing, it doesn’t need to be much.
There is also technology made specifically for this purpose such as white noise machines. They simulate a natural sound that is calming such as the ocean waves or rain falling. You can hear the sound when you sleep if you buy one with pillow speakers.
Getting hearing aids is also a good option. 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.
For the majority of people, the solution is a combination of tricks. 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 severe, there are medications that could help. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can quite this noise.
Lifestyle Changes to Handle Your Tinnitus
Making a few lifestyle changes can help, too. Identifying if there are triggers is a good place to start. When the tinnitus starts, note what’s going on and write it down in a journal. Be specific:
- Is there a specific sound that is triggering it?
- What did you just eat?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- Did you just drink a soda or a cup of coffee?
The more accurate your information, the faster you’ll see the patterns that might be triggering the ringing. Meditation, exercise, and biofeedback can help you avoid stress which can also be responsible.
An Ounce of Prevention
Take the correct steps to prevent tinnitus from the start. Protect your hearing as much as possible by:
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Wearing ear protection when you’re going to be around loud noises
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Turning the volume down on everything
Eat right, exercise, and if you have high blood pressure, take your medication. To eliminate treatable problems which increase your risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional.