The ringing of tinnitus will be annoying whether you only hear it periodically or all of the time. There may be a more appropriate word than annoying. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk aggravating and downright frustrating may fit better. That noise that you can’t get rid of is a problem however you decide to describe it. So what can be done? How can you stop that ringing in your ears?
What is Tinnitus And Why do You Have it?
Begin by learning more about the condition that is responsible for the clicking, ringing, buzzing, or roaring you hear. It’s estimated as much as 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from tinnitus, which is the medical name for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus is a symptom of something else, not a condition in and of itself. For many people, that something else is hearing loss. Hearing loss often comes with tinnitus as a side effect. It’s not really evident why tinnitus occurs when there is a change in a person’s hearing. The latest theory is the brain creates the noise to fill a void.
Every single day you come across thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of sounds. There is talking, music, car horns, and the TV, as an example, but those are only the obvious noises. How about the turning of the blades on the ceiling fan or the sound of air blowing through a vent. You don’t really hear these sounds, but that’s only because your brain decides you don’t need to.
It’s “normal” for your brain to hear these sounds, is the point. So what happens if you shut half of those sounds off? Confusion occurs in the portion of the brain that hears sound. It may be possible that the phantom sounds linked with tinnitus are the brain’s way of producing sound 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:
- Head or neck trauma
- High blood pressure
- Turbulent blood flow
- Meniere’s disease
- Poor circulation
- Head or neck tumors
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- A reaction to medication
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
Any of these can cause tinnitus. Even though you can hear fine, after an injury or accident, you may still experience this ringing. It’s important to get get a hearing exam to determine why you have tinnitus before looking for ways to get rid of it.
Can Anything be Done About Tinnitus?
You can decide what to do about it after you determine why you have it. Giving the brain what it wants may be the only thing that helps. If the lack of sound is the cause of your tinnitus, you need to create some. It doesn’t have to be very much, something as simple as a fan running in the background may generate enough noise to shut off the ringing.
A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is made for this purpose. They imitate relaxing natural sounds like rain falling or ocean waves. Some include pillow speakers, so you hear the sound as you sleep.
Another thing which 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 generated by the brain.
For most people, the solution is a combination of tricks. For example, you might 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 effective or if the tinnitus is severe. Certain antidepressants can quiet this noise, for example, Xanax.
Handle You Tinnitus With Lifestyle Changes
Modifying your lifestyle a little bit will help too. Figuring out if there are triggers is a good place to start. Write down in a journal what’s going on when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:
- Did you just drink a cup of coffee or soda?
- What did you just eat?
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- Is there a particular sound that is triggering it?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
Be very specific when you record the information and pretty soon you will notice the patterns that trigger the ringing. Meditation, exercise, and biofeedback can help you avoid stress which can also be the cause.
An Ounce of Prevention
Preventing tinnitus from the beginning is the best way to deal with it. Protect your hearing as much as you can by:
- Turning down the volume on everything
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Wearing ear protection when you’re going to be around loud noises
If you have high blood pressure, take your medication. Eat right and exercise also. To eliminate treatable issues that increase your risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional.