The ringing of tinnitus can be annoying whether you just hear it periodically or all of the time. Perhaps annoying isn’t the right word. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk irritating and downright frustrating may be better. No matter what the description, that sound that you can’t get rid of is a big problem in your life. Can anything be done? Is even possible to prevent that ringing in your ears?
Know What Tinnitus Is And Why You Have it
Start 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 experiences tinnitus, which is the medical term for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus itself is not a condition but a symptom of something else. Hearing loss is often the primary cause of tinnitus. Hearing loss often comes along with tinnitus as a side effect. Why tinnitus happens when there is a change in a person’s hearing is still unclear. At this time the theory is that the brain is filling the void by producing noise.
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 obvious noises. How about the rotating of the blades on the ceiling fan or the sound of air blowing through 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. If half of those sounds are switched off, what happens then? Confusion happens in the portion of the brain that hears sound. Your brain realizes the sound should be there so it’s possible that it produces the sounds associated with tinnitus to fill in the blanks.
Hearing loss isn’t the only possible cause of tinnitus, though. Severe health issues can also be the cause, like:
- Meniere’s disease
- Poor circulation
- High blood pressure
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Head or neck tumors
- A reaction to medication
- Head or neck trauma
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Turbulent blood flow
Tinnitus can be triggered by any of these things. After an injury or accident, even though you can hear fine, you may experience this ringing. Before you go looking for other methods of dealing with it, you need to see a doctor to have a hearing exam.
What Can be Done About Tinnitus?
Once you identify why you have it, you can determine what to do about it. Sometimes, the only thing that works is to give the brain what it wants. If tinnitus is because of the lack of sound, make some. It doesn’t need to be much, something as simple as a fan running in the background could generate enough noise to turn off the ringing.
A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is designed for this purpose. They simulate soothing natural sounds like falling rain or ocean waves. Some include pillow speakers, so you hear the sound when you sleep.
Hearing aids also work. With quality hearing aids, you are turning up the volume of the sounds the brain is listening for like the AC running. The brain has no further need to produce phantom noises because hearing aids normalize your hearing.
A combination of tricks works the best for most people. For instance, you might use a white noise generator at night and hearing aids during the day.
If the tinnitus is more severe and soft sounds don’t work there are also medications available. Certain antidepressants can silence this noise, for example, Xanax.
Lifestyle Changes to Manage Your Tinnitus
It can also help if you make a few lifestyle modifications. Begin by determining if there are triggers. Keep a record and make a note of what’s happening when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:
- What did you just eat?
- Is there a specific noise that is triggering it?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- Did you just have a soda or a cup of coffee?
The more specific your information, the faster you’ll notice the patterns that could be inducing the ringing. You should find ways to relax such as biofeedback, exercise, and meditation because stress can also be the cause.
An Ounce of Prevention
The ideal way to get rid of tinnitus is to protect against it in the first place. Protect your hearing as much as possible by:
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Wearing ear protection when around loud noises
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Turning the volume down on everything
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.