The ringing of tinnitus will be annoying whether you just hear it from time to time or all of the time. Maybe annoying isn’t the best word. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk infuriating and downright frustrating might be better. No matter what the description, that sound that you can’t turn off is a big problem in your life. So what can be done? How can you stop that ringing in your ears?
Why do You Have Tinnitus And What Exactly Causes 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 name for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus is a symptom of something else, not a condition itself. Hearing loss is often the main cause of tinnitus. Tinnitus is a common side effect of hearing decline. When there is a change in a person’s hearing, it is still unclear why tinnitus occurs. That the brain is generating the noise to fill the void is the present theory.
Thousands, possibly even hundreds of thousands of sounds are encountered each day. There are the noticeable sounds like a motor running or someone shouting, and then there are noises you don’t even notice. How about the turning of the blades on the ceiling fan or the sound of air blowing into a vent. You don’t normally 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. Shut half those sounds off and how would the brain act in response? The portion of your brain in control of hearing becomes confounded. Your brain is aware that the sound should be there so it’s possible that it creates the noises connected with tinnitus to compensate.
Tinnitus has other possible causes also. It can be attributed to severe health problems like:
- Turbulent blood flow
- Head or neck trauma
- High blood pressure
- A reaction to medication
- Meniere’s disease
- Poor circulation
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Head or neck tumors
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
Any of these things can cause tinnitus. You may experience the ringing even though you hear fine or after an injury or accident. Before you look for other ways to get rid of it, you should see a doctor to get a hearing exam.
What to do About Tinnitus
You can figure out what to do about it after you find out why you have it. In some cases, the only thing that helps is to give the brain what it wants. If the lack of sound is causing your tinnitus, you need to generate some. Something as basic as a fan running in the background might generate enough sound to switch 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. Some have pillow speakers, so you hear the sound as you sleep.
Another thing that also works well is hearing aids. With quality hearing aids, you are turning up the volume of the sounds the brain is looking for like the AC running. The brain has no further need to create phantom noises because hearing aids normalize your hearing.
A combination of tricks works best for most people. You might use hearing aids during the day and use a white noise machine at night, for example.
If soft sounds aren’t helping or if the tinnitus is severe, there are medications that might help. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can silence this noise.
Manage You Tinnitus With Lifestyle Changes
Modifying your lifestyle a little bit will help too. Start by determining if there are triggers. Write down in a journal what’s taking place when the tinnitus begins. Be specific:
- Is there a particular sound that is triggering it?
- Did you just have a cup of coffee or soda?
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- What did you just eat?
- 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 see 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 in the first place is the best way to deal with it. Start by doing everything you can to protect your hearing like:
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Turning down the volume on everything
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Wearing ear protection when around loud noises
That means you have to eat healthily, 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.