Whether or not it’s only with you occasionally or you hear it all of the time, the ringing of tinnitus in your ears is annoying. Maybe annoying isn’t the correct word. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk aggravating and downright frustrating might fit better. Whatever the description, that sound that you can’t turn off is a serious issue in your life. What can you do, though? Is even possible to prevent 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 ringing, clicking, buzzing, 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 itself is not a condition but a sign of something else. Loss of hearing is often the main cause of tinnitus. Tinnitus is a common side effect of hearing decline. Why tinnitus comes about when there is a change in a person’s hearing is still unclear. Presently the theory is that the brain is filling the void by creating noise.
You come across thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of sounds every 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 less noticeable. You don’t normally 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. If half of those sounds are switched off, what happens then? The portion of your brain in charge of hearing becomes bewildered. Your brain realizes the sound should be there so it’s possible that it produces the sounds associated with tinnitus to compensate.
Hearing loss isn’t the only possible cause of tinnitus, though. Severe health issues can also be the cause, like:
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Meniere’s disease
- Poor circulation
- High blood pressure
- Head or neck tumors
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Turbulent blood flow
- A reaction to medication
- Head or neck trauma
Tinnitus can be triggered by any of these. After an injury or accident, even though you can hear fine, you might experience this ringing. A hearing exam should be scheduled with a doctor before attempting to find another way to get rid of it.
What to do About Tinnitus
You can decide what to do about it after you find out why you have it. Giving the brain what it wants might be the only thing that helps. If tinnitus is caused by the lack of sound, create some. A sound as simple as a fan running in the background may generate enough noise to shut off the ringing, it doesn’t need to be much.
Technology such as a white noise generator is designed just for this purpose. Ocean waves or rain falling are calming natural sounds which these devices simulate. Some have pillow speakers, so you hear the sound as you sleep.
Investing in 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.
A combination of tricks is most effective for the majority of people. You might use 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 available. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can quite this noise.
Lifestyle Changes to Handle Your Tinnitus
Changing your lifestyle a little bit can help too. Figuring out if there are triggers is a good place to begin. Keep a record and make a note of what’s going on when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- Did you just drink a cup of coffee or soda?
- Is there a specific noise that is triggering it?
- What did you just eat?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
Be very precise when you record the information and pretty soon you will notice the patterns which trigger the ringing. Stress can also be responsible, so look for ways to relax such as exercise, meditation or even biofeedback.
An Ounce of Prevention
The best way to get rid of tinnitus is to protect against it from the beginning. Begin by doing everything you can to protect your hearing like:
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Turning down the volume on everything
- Wearing ear protection when around loud noises
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
That means eat right, get lots of exercise and take high blood pressure medication if it’s prescribed. Lastly, schedule a hearing exam to rule out treatable problems that increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes along with it.