The ringing of tinnitus will be annoying whether or not you only hear it periodically or all of the time. Annoying might not be the right word. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk aggravating? No matter how you choose to describe that noise that you can’t seem to turn off, it’s a problem. Can anything be done? Is even possible to stop that ringing in your ears?
Know Why You Have Tinnitus And Exactly What it is
Start by finding out 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 term for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus per se is not a condition but a sign of something else. For many, that something else is loss of hearing. Tinnitus is a common side effect of hearing decline. It’s not really clear why tinnitus appears when there is a change in a person’s hearing. The current theory is the brain creates the noise to fill a void.
You encounter thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of sounds every single day. There are the obvious sounds like a motor running or someone yelling, and then there are noises you don’t even notice. How about the spinning 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. If half of those sounds are switched off, what happens then? It becomes bewildering for the portion of your brain that hears sound. It might create the phantom tinnitus sounds to fill in the blanks because it knows sound should be there.
Hearing loss isn’t the only possible cause of tinnitus, however. Severe health issues can also be the cause, like:
- A reaction to medication
- Poor circulation
- High blood pressure
- Meniere’s disease
- Head or neck tumors
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Head or neck trauma
- Turbulent blood flow
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
Tinnitus can be caused by any of these things. Despite the fact that you can hear fine, after an injury or accident, you may still experience this ringing. It’s important to get checked out by a doctor to determine 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 when you find out why you have it. Sometimes, the only thing that helps is to give the brain what it wants. If the lack of sound is causing your tinnitus, you need to create some. It doesn’t need to be much, something as simple as a fan running in the background could generate enough sound to shut off the ringing.
A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is designed specifically for this purpose. They simulate soothing natural sounds such as rain falling or ocean waves. Some have pillow speakers, so you hear the sound when you sleep.
Hearing aids will also work. You can turn up the sounds that your brain is listening for, like the AC running, with quality hearing aids. Hearing aids normalize your hearing enough that the brain has no further need to generate phantom noise.
For most people, the answer is a combination of tricks. For example, you could use a white noise generator at night and hearing aids during the day.
There are also medications available if soft sounds are not successful or if the tinnitus is severe. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can silence this noise.
Handle You Tinnitus With Lifestyle Changes
It will also be helpful if you make a few lifestyle modifications. A good starting point is figuring out what triggers your tinnitus. Keep a diary and make a note of what’s going on when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:
- Are you drinking alcohol or smoking a cigarette?
- Is there a specific sound that is triggering it?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- What did you just eat?
- Did you just have a soda or a cup of coffee?
Be very specific when you record the information and pretty soon you will notice the patterns that trigger the ringing. You should find ways to relax like biofeedback, exercise, and meditation because stress can also be responsible.
An Ounce of Prevention
The ideal way to get rid of tinnitus is to protect against it from the beginning. Start by doing everything possible to protect your hearing like:
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Wearing ear protection when you’re going to be around loud noises
- 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 that increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes along with it.