Whether or not you only hear it periodically or you hear it all of the time, the ringing of tinnitus in your ears is annoying. There may be a more appropriate word than annoying. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk infuriating and downright frustrating may fit better. No matter how you choose to describe that sound that you can’t seem to turn off, it’s an issue. Can anything be done? Is even possible to prevent that ringing in your ears?
Why do You Have Tinnitus And What Exactly is it?
Begin by finding out 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 suffers from tinnitus, which is the medical name for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus per se is not a condition but a sign of something else. For many, that something else is hearing loss. Tinnitus is a result of hearing decline. Why tinnitus occurs when there is a change in a person’s hearing is still unclear. That the brain is creating the sound to fill the void is the current theory.
Thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of sounds are encountered each day. There is talking, music, car horns, and the TV, as an example, but those are just the noticeable noises. What about the spinning of the blades on the ceiling fan or the sound of air blowing into a vent. These sorts of sound are not usually heard because the brain decides you don’t really need to hear them.
The point is, hearing these sounds is “normal” for your brain. If half of those sounds are shut off, what happens then? It becomes bewildering for the part of your brain that hears sound. It might create the phantom tinnitus noises to compensate because it recognizes sound should be there.
There are also other possible causes of tinnitus, however. It can be connected to severe health problems like:
- Poor circulation
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Meniere’s disease
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- High blood pressure
- Head or neck tumors
- A reaction to medication
- Turbulent blood flow
- Head or neck trauma
Any of these can trigger tinnitus. You may 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 attempting to find another way to get rid of it.
What Can be Done About Tinnitus?
Once you identify why you have it, you can figure out what to do about it. Sometimes, 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 create some. The ringing may be able to be turned off by something as basic as a fan running in the background.
There is also technology designed just for this purpose such as white noise machines. They simulate soothing natural sounds such as falling rain or ocean waves. Some have pillow speakers, so you hear the sound as you sleep.
Another thing that also works well is hearing aids. The sounds the brain is listening for can be turned up using quality hearing aids. Hearing aids normalize your hearing enough that the brain no longer needs to generate phantom noise.
For many 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 more severe, there are medications that could help. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can silence this noise.
Handle You Tinnitus With Lifestyle Changes
Making a few lifestyle modifications will help, as well. A good starting place is figuring out what triggers your tinnitus. When the tinnitus starts, note what’s going on and write it down in a log. Be specific:
- Are you drinking alcohol or smoking a cigarette?
- What did you just eat?
- Is there a specific sound that is triggering it?
- Did you just drink a cup of coffee or soda?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
You will begin to see the patterns which trigger the ringing if you record the information very accurately. You should find ways to relax like biofeedback, exercise, and meditation because stress can also be responsible.
An Ounce of Prevention
The best way to get rid of tinnitus is to prevent it in the first place. Begin by doing everything possible to protect your hearing like:
- Turning down the volume on everything
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Wearing ear protection when you’re going to be around loud noises
That means you have to 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.