The ringing of tinnitus can be annoying whether you just hear it sporadically or all of the time. There may be a more suitable word than annoying. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk aggravating? Regardless of the description, that sound that you can’t turn off is a big problem in your life. What can you do, though? How can you stop that ringing in your ears?
What is Tinnitus And Why do You Have it?
Start by finding out more about the condition that is responsible for the clicking, ringing, buzzing, or roaring you hear. It’s estimated as much as 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from tinnitus, which is the medical term for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus is a symptom of something else, not a condition in and of itself. That something else is hearing loss for many people. Hearing loss often comes along with tinnitus as a side effect. It’s not really evident why tinnitus happens when there is a decline in a person’s hearing. The latest theory is the brain creates the noise to fill a void.
Thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of sounds are encountered each day. There is talking, music, car horns, and the TV, for 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. Your brain decides you don’t really need to hear these sounds.
The point is, hearing these sounds is “normal” for your brain. If half of those sounds are shut off, what happens then? The part of your brain in charge of hearing gets confused. It may produce the phantom tinnitus sounds to compensate because it recognizes sound should be there.
There are also other possible causes of tinnitus, however. Severe health problems can also be the cause, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Meniere’s disease
- Turbulent blood flow
- A reaction to medication
- Head or neck tumors
- Head or neck trauma
- Poor circulation
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
Tinnitus can be caused by any of these things. Despite the fact that you can hear fine, after an injury or accident, you might still experience this ringing. Before you look for other methods of dealing with it, you should schedule an appointment with a doctor to get a hearing exam.
Can Anything be Done About Tinnitus?
Once you discover why you have it, you can figure out what to do about it. Giving the brain what it wants might be the only thing that works. If tinnitus is caused by the lack of sound, create some. Something as basic as a fan running in the background could create enough sound to turn off the ringing, it doesn’t have to be much.
A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is designed specifically for this purpose. They simulate a natural sound that is soothing like the ocean waves or rain falling. Some have pillow speakers, so you hear the sound as you sleep.
Hearing aids will also do the trick. You can turn up the sounds that your brain is looking for, like the AC running, with quality hearing aids. The brain no longer needs to generate phantom noises because hearing aids normalize your hearing.
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 approach.
There are also medications available if soft sounds are not successful or if the tinnitus is more severe. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can silence this noise.
Handle You Tinnitus With Lifestyle Changes
Making a few lifestyle modifications can help, too. Identifying if there are triggers is a good place to begin. Keep a record and make a note of what’s happening when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- Are you drinking alcohol or smoking a cigarette?
- Did you just have a cup of coffee or soda?
- What did you just eat?
- Is there a particular noise that is triggering it?
The more specific your information, the faster you’ll see the patterns that could be inducing the ringing. Meditation, exercise, and biofeedback can help you avoid stress which can also be responsible.
An Ounce of Prevention
Take the appropriate steps to prevent tinnitus from the beginning. Begin by doing everything you can 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
Eat right, exercise, and if you have high blood pressure, take your medication. Finally, schedule a hearing exam to rule out treatable issues that increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes along with it.