Whether it’s only with you periodically or you hear it all of the time, the ringing of tinnitus in your ears can be annoying. There may be a more appropriate word than annoying. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk irritating? No matter how you decide to describe that sound that you can’t seem to turn off, it’s an issue. So what can be done? Is even possible to stop that ringing in your ears?
What is Tinnitus And Why do You Have it?
Start by learning 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 term for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus is a symptom of something else, not a condition in and of itself. Loss of hearing is often the primary cause of tinnitus. Hearing decline typically comes along 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. The latest theory is the brain produces the noise to fill a void.
Thousands, possibly even hundreds of thousands of sounds are encountered each day. There is conversing, music, car horns, and the TV, for example, but those are just the obvious noises. The sound of air blowing through a vent or the rotating blades of a ceiling fan are less noticeable. These kinds of sound are not normally 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? The part of your brain that deals with hearing gets confounded. It is possible that the phantom noises associated with tinnitus are its way of producing sound for it to interpret because it recognizes it should be there.
Tinnitus has other possible causes as well. Severe health issues can also be the cause, like:
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Poor circulation
- Turbulent blood flow
- Head or neck trauma
- Head or neck tumors
- Meniere’s disease
- A reaction to medication
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- High blood pressure
Tinnitus can be caused by any of these things. You might get the ringing despite the fact that you hear fine or after an injury or accident. Before looking for other ways to get rid of it, you should see a doctor to get a hearing exam.
What to do About Tinnitus
You need to find out why you have it before you can begin to determine what to do about it. Giving the brain what it wants may be the only thing that helps. If tinnitus is because of the lack of sound, create some. Something as simple as a fan running in the background might generate enough noise to shut off the ringing, it doesn’t have to be much.
Technology such as a white noise generator is made just for this purpose. They simulate relaxing natural sounds such as falling rain or ocean waves. You can hear the sound as you sleep if you buy one with pillow speakers.
Another thing which also works well is hearing aids. With quality hearing aids, you are turning up the volume of the sounds the brain is listening for like the AC running. Because your hearing is normalized, phantom sounds are no longer created by the brain.
For many people, the answer is a combination of tricks. Using a white noise generator at night and wearing hearing aids during the day are examples of this approach.
If the tinnitus is more severe and soft sounds won’t work there are also medications that you can get. Certain antidepressants can silence this noise, for example, Xanax.
Manage You Tinnitus With Lifestyle Changes
It can also help if you make a few lifestyle changes. A good starting place is identifying what triggers your tinnitus. Write down in a journal what’s taking place when the tinnitus begins. Be specific:
- Are you drinking alcohol or smoking a cigarette?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- What did you just eat?
- Did you just drink a cup of coffee or soda?
- Is there a specific noise that is triggering it?
The more accurate your information, the faster you’ll notice the patterns that could be triggering the ringing. You should find ways to relax like biofeedback, exercise, and meditation because stress can also be responsible.
An Ounce of Prevention
The best way to get rid of tinnitus is to protect against it from the beginning. Protect your hearing as much as possible by:
- Turning down the volume on everything
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Wearing ear protection when around loud noises
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
That means you have to eat right, get plenty of exercise and take high blood pressure medication if it’s prescribed. To rule out treatable issues which increase your risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional.