Whether or not you only hear it from time to time or you hear it all of the time, the ringing of tinnitus in your ears can be annoying. There might be a more appropriate word than annoying. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk irritating? However you decide to describe that sound that you can’t turn off, it’s an issue. What can you do, though? How can you prevent that ringing in your ears?
Why do You Have Tinnitus And What Exactly is it?
Begin by learning more about the condition that is causing the clicking, ringing, buzzing, or roaring you hear. It’s estimated as much as 10 percent of the U.S. population experiences 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. Hearing decline frequently comes along with tinnitus as a side effect. Why tinnitus occurs when there is a change in a person’s hearing is still not well understood. That the brain is producing the noise to fill the void is the present theory.
You come across thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of sounds every day. There is conversing, music, car horns, and the TV, as an example, but those are only the obvious noises. The sound of air coming through a vent or the rotating blades of a ceiling fan are less noticeable. 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? It becomes perplexing for the part of your brain that hears sound. It may be possible that the phantom noises that come with tinnitus are the brains way of creating noise for it to interpret because it recognizes it should be there.
Tinnitus has other possible causes as well. It can be linked to severe health problems like:
- Head or neck trauma
- Meniere’s disease
- Turbulent blood flow
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- High blood pressure
- A reaction to medication
- Head or neck tumors
- Poor circulation
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
Any of these can trigger tinnitus. You may get the ringing despite the fact that you hear fine or after an injury or accident. It’s important to get checked out by a doctor to find out why you have tinnitus before looking for other ways to deal with it.
What to do About Tinnitus
You need to find out why you have it before you can start to figure out what to do about it. The only thing that works, in many cases, is to give the brain what it wants. If tinnitus is caused by the lack of sound, generate some. It doesn’t need to be much, something as basic as a fan running in the background might generate enough sound to switch off the ringing.
A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is designed specifically for this purpose. They imitate a natural sound that is calming like the ocean waves or falling rain. You can hear the sound when you sleep if you buy one with pillow speakers.
Another thing which also works well is hearing aids. The sounds the brain is listening for can be turned up using quality hearing aids. Because your hearing is normalized, phantom sounds are no longer produced by the brain.
For many people, the solution is a combination of tricks. You could wear hearing aids during the day and use a white noise machine at night, for example.
There are also medications that you can get if soft sounds are not working or if the tinnitus is more severe. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can quite this noise.
Manage You Tinnitus With Lifestyle Changes
Making a few lifestyle changes will help, too. A good starting place is figuring out what triggers your tinnitus. Write down in a journal what’s taking place when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- Is there a specific sound that is triggering it?
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- What did you just eat?
- Did you just drink a cup of coffee or soda?
You will start to notice the patterns that induce the ringing if you record the information very accurately. Meditation, exercise, and biofeedback can help you avoid stress which can also be responsible.
An Ounce of Prevention
The best way to get rid of tinnitus is to prevent it from the beginning. Protect your hearing as much as you can by:
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Turning down the volume on everything
- 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. To rule out treatable issues which increase your risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional.