Whether you only hear it occasionally or all of the time, the ringing of tinnitus in your ears can be annoying. Annoying may not be the best word. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk aggravating? That noise that you can’t get rid of is a problem however you decide to describe it. What can you do, though? Can that ringing actually be prevented?
Know What Tinnitus Is And Why You Have it
Start 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 name for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus per se is not a condition but a sign of something else. That something else is hearing loss for many people. Hearing loss often comes along with tinnitus as a side effect. When a person’s hearing changes, it is still unclear why tinnitus occurs. The current theory is the brain creates the noise to fill a void.
You come across thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of sounds 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 not so obvious. You don’t really hear these sounds, but that’s only because your brain decides you don’t need to.
The point is, hearing these sounds is “normal” for your brain. Now, what happens if you turn half of those sounds off? The part of your brain that deals with hearing becomes bewildered. Your brain is aware that the sound should be there so it’s possible that it generates the sounds associated with tinnitus to fill in the blanks.
Tinnitus has other possible causes also. It can be attributed to severe health issues like:
- Head or neck tumors
- A reaction to medication
- Meniere’s disease
- Poor circulation
- Turbulent blood flow
- Head or neck trauma
- High blood pressure
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
Tinnitus can be caused by any of these. Despite the fact that you can hear fine, after an injury or accident, you may still experience this ringing. It’s essential to get checked out by a doctor to determine why you have tinnitus before searching for other ways to deal with it.
What Can be Done About Tinnitus?
Once you identify why you have it, you can figure out what to do about it. The only thing that helps, sometimes, is to give the brain what it wants. You have to produce some sound if your tinnitus is caused by lack of it. A sound as basic as a fan running in the background might produce enough noise to switch off the ringing, it doesn’t need to be much.
Technology such as a white noise generator is designed just for this purpose. Ocean waves or rain falling are calming natural sounds that these devices simulate. You can hear the sound when you sleep if you buy one with pillow speakers.
Hearing aids will also work. The sounds the brain is looking for can be turned up using quality hearing aids. Because your hearing is normalized, phantom sounds are no longer generated by the brain.
For the majority of people, the solution is a combination of tricks. For instance, you could use a white noise generator at night and hearing aids during the day.
There are also medications that you can get if soft sounds are not working or if the tinnitus is severe. Certain antidepressants can quiet this noise, for example, Xanax.
You Have to Alter Your Lifestyle if You Want to Manage Your Tinnitus
It will also help if you make a few lifestyle changes. Begin by determining if there are triggers. When the tinnitus starts, note what’s happening and write it down in a journal. Be specific:
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- Did you just drink a soda or a cup of coffee?
- What did you just eat?
- Is there a specific noise that is triggering it?
You will begin to notice the patterns which trigger the ringing if you record the information very accurately. You should find ways to relax like biofeedback, exercise, and meditation because stress can also be responsible.
An Ounce of Prevention
The ideal way to get rid of tinnitus is to prevent it in the first place. Protect your hearing as much as possible by:
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Turning the volume down on everything
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Wearing ear protection when around loud noises
That means you have to eat right, get lots of exercise and take high blood pressure medication if it’s prescribed. To eliminate treatable issues which increase your risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional.