It doesn’t matter if you hear it once in a while or it’s with you all day and night, the ringing of tinnitus can be annoying. Annoying may not be the right word. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk irritating and downright frustrating may be better. However you decide to describe that sound that you can’t turn off, it’s an issue. What can you do, though? Is even possible to get rid of that ringing in your ears?
What is Tinnitus And Why do You Have 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 endures 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 people, that something else is loss of hearing. Tinnitus is a common result of hearing decline. It’s not really evident why tinnitus occurs when there is a change in a person’s hearing. Currently, the theory is that the brain is filling the void by producing noise.
Each day you experience thousands, possibly even hundreds of thousands of sounds. There is talking, music, car horns, and the TV, for example, but those are just the noticeable noises. The sound of air coming through a vent or the rotating blades of a ceiling fan are not as noticeable. These types of sound are not usually heard because the brain decides you don’t really need to hear them.
It’s “normal” for your brain to hear these sounds, is the point. Turn half those sounds off and how would the brain respond? Confusion occurs in the portion of the brain that hears sound. It may be possible that the phantom sounds that come with tinnitus are its way of creating noise for it to interpret because it knows it should be there.
Hearing loss isn’t the only possible cause of tinnitus, however. It can be attributed to severe health problems like:
- Poor circulation
- Head or neck tumors
- Head or neck trauma
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- A reaction to medication
- Turbulent blood flow
- High blood pressure
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Meniere’s disease
Tinnitus can be triggered by any of these. Despite the fact that you can hear fine, after an injury or accident, you could still experience this ringing. It’s important to get checked out by a doctor to find out why you have tinnitus before searching for other ways to deal with it.
What to do About Tinnitus
When you find out why you have it, you can determine what to do about it. The only thing that helps, sometimes, is to give the brain what it wants. You need to produce some sound if your tinnitus is caused by lack of it. It doesn’t need to be much, something as basic as a fan running in the background might generate enough sound to turn off that ringing.
There is also technology designed just for this purpose such as white noise machines. Ocean waves or rain falling are relaxing natural sounds that these devices simulate. Some include pillow speakers, so you hear the sound when 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.
A combination of tricks works best for most people. You might use hearing aids during the day and use a white noise machine at night, for example.
If the tinnitus is severe and soft sounds won’t work there are also medications available. 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
Making a few lifestyle modifications will help, as well. A good starting point is figuring out what triggers your tinnitus. Keep a journal and make a note of what’s happening when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:
- Did you just have a soda or a cup of coffee?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- Is there a specific noise that is triggering it?
- What did you just eat?
You will start to notice the patterns which induce the ringing if you record the information very precisely. Stress can also be responsible, so try to find ways to relax such as exercise, meditation or even biofeedback.
An Ounce of Prevention
Preventing tinnitus in the first place is the best way to deal with it. Start by doing everything you can to protect your hearing like:
- 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 problems which increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes with it.