The ringing of tinnitus can be annoying whether or not you only hear it sometimes or all of the time. Annoying might not be the right word. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk aggravating and downright frustrating may be better. No matter how you choose to describe that noise that you can’t turn off, it’s a problem. So what can be done? Is even possible to get rid of that ringing in your ears?
Know What Tinnitus Is And Why You Have it
Begin by learning more about the condition that is responsible for 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 symptom of something else. For many, that something else is loss of hearing. Tinnitus is a common result of hearing decline. It’s not really clear why tinnitus occurs when there is a change in a person’s hearing. Presently the theory is that the brain is filling the void by producing noise.
You encounter thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of sounds each day. There is conversing, music, car horns, and the TV, for example, but those are just the noticeable noises. The sound of air blowing through a vent or the spinning blades of a ceiling fan are not as obvious. 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 turned off, what happens then? Confusion happens in the portion of the brain that hears sound. It may create the phantom tinnitus sounds to fill in the blanks because it realizes sound should be there.
Hearing loss isn’t the only possible cause of tinnitus, though. It can be attributed to severe health issues like:
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Turbulent blood flow
- Meniere’s disease
- A reaction to medication
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Head or neck trauma
- Head or neck tumors
- Poor circulation
- High blood pressure
Any of these can trigger tinnitus. After an injury or accident, even though you can hear fine, you could experience this ringing. Before searching for other methods of dealing with it, you should schedule an appointment with a doctor to get a hearing exam.
What to do About Tinnitus
You can decide what to do about it after you determine why you have it. Sometimes, the only thing that works is to give the brain what it wants. If tinnitus is caused by the lack of sound, generate some. Something as simple as a fan running in the background may create enough sound to turn off the ringing, it doesn’t need to be much.
There is also technology designed just for this purpose such as white noise machines. They simulate a natural sound that is calming such as the ocean waves or falling rain. You can hear the sound when you sleep if you buy one with pillow speakers.
Another thing that also works is hearing aids. You can turn up the sounds that your brain is looking for, like the AC running, with quality hearing aids. Because your hearing is normalized, phantom sounds are no longer produced by the brain.
For most 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 strategy.
If soft sounds aren’t helping or if the tinnitus is more severe, there are medications that might help. Certain antidepressants can silence this noise, for example, Xanax.
You Have to Change Your Lifestyle if You Want to Manage Your Tinnitus
Modifying your lifestyle a little bit can help as well. Start by determining what the triggers are. When the tinnitus starts, note what’s going on and write it down in a log. Be specific:
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- Is there a particular noise that is triggering it?
- What did you just eat?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- Did you just have a cup of coffee or soda?
You will start to see the patterns which trigger the ringing if you record the information very accurately. Stress can also be the cause, so try to find ways to relax like exercise, meditation or even biofeedback.
An Ounce of Prevention
Preventing tinnitus in the first place is the best way to deal with it. Protect your hearing as much as possible by:
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Using ear protection when around loud noises
- Turning down the volume on everything
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
If you have high blood pressure, take your medication. Eat right and exercise also. 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.