Whether or not you hear it occasionally or it’s with you all day and night, the ringing of tinnitus is annoying. Perhaps annoying isn’t the correct word. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk irritating and downright frustrating might be better. Regardless of the description, that sound that you can’t get rid of is a serious issue in your life. 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 causing 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 is a symptom of something else, not a condition in and of itself. That something else is loss of hearing for many people. Hearing loss often comes with tinnitus as a side effect. Why tinnitus comes about when there is a change in a person’s hearing is still not well understood. Currently, the theory is that the brain is filling the void by creating noise.
Every day you encounter thousands, possibly even hundreds of thousands of sounds. 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 coming into a vent. 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. Shut half those sounds off and how would the brain react? Confusion occurs in the part of the brain that hears sound. Your brain recognizes the sound should be there so it’s possible that it generates the noises associated with tinnitus to compensate.
There are also other possible causes of tinnitus, however. It can be linked to severe health issues like:
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Head or neck tumors
- Head or neck trauma
- High blood pressure
- A reaction to medication
- Poor circulation
- Turbulent blood flow
- Meniere’s disease
Any of these things can cause tinnitus. After an injury or accident, even though you can hear fine, you could experience this ringing. It’s important to get get a hearing exam to find out why you’re experiencing tinnitus before looking for other ways to deal with it.
What to do About Tinnitus
You can figure out 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 due to the lack of sound, generate some. A sound as basic as a fan running in the background might generate enough noise to switch off the ringing, it doesn’t have to be much.
A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is made just for this purpose. Ocean waves or rain falling are soothing natural sounds which these devices simulate. You can hear the sound as you sleep if you get one with pillow speakers.
Hearing aids also work. With quality hearing aids, you are turning up the volume of the sounds the brain is looking for like the AC running. The brain doesn’t need to generate phantom noises because hearing aids normalize your hearing.
A combination of tricks is most effective for most people. You could use hearing aids during the day and use a white noise machine at night, for example.
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 silence this noise.
You Have to Change Your Lifestyle if You Want to Manage Your Tinnitus
It will also be helpful if you make a few lifestyle changes. 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:
- Is there a specific noise that is triggering it?
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- Did you just have a cup of coffee or soda?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- What did you just eat?
You will start to see the patterns that trigger the ringing if you record the information very specifically. Stress can also be responsible, so look for ways to relax like exercise, meditation or even biofeedback.
An Ounce of Prevention
The best way to get rid of tinnitus is to prevent it from the beginning. Protect your hearing as much as you can by:
- Turning down the volume on everything
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Using ear protection when you’re going to be around loud noises
If you have high blood pressure, take your medication. Eat right and exercise as well. Finally, schedule a hearing exam to rule out treatable problems which increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes with it.