The ringing of tinnitus will be annoying whether or not you just hear it periodically or all of the time. Annoying may not be the best word. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk infuriating? Whatever the description, that noise that you can’t get rid of is a big problem in your life. Can anything be done? Can that ringing actually be stopped?
Understand What Tinnitus Is And Why You Have it
Start by learning more about the condition that is responsible for the buzzing, ringing, clicking 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 itself. Loss of hearing is often the primary cause of tinnitus. Hearing decline commonly comes along with tinnitus as a side effect. Why tinnitus occurs when there is a change in a person’s hearing is still unclear. The current theory is the brain generates the noise to fill a void.
Thousands, perhaps 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 notice. The sound of air coming through a vent or the spinning blades of a ceiling fan are not so obvious. 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. So what happens if you turn half of those sounds off? It becomes bewildering for the part of your brain that hears sound. Your brain is aware that the sound should be there so it’s possible that it creates the sounds associated with tinnitus to compensate.
Hearing loss isn’t the only possible cause of tinnitus, though. Severe health problems can also be the cause, like:
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Turbulent blood flow
- Head or neck trauma
- Head or neck tumors
- High blood pressure
- Poor circulation
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- A reaction to medication
- Meniere’s disease
Any of these can trigger tinnitus. Despite the fact that you can hear fine, after an injury or accident, you may still experience this ringing. A hearing exam should be scheduled with a doctor before attempting to find another way of dealing with it.
What Can be Done About Tinnitus?
When you find out why you have it, you can figure out what to do about it. The only thing that works, in many cases, 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 simple as a fan running in the background could generate 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. They imitate a natural sound that is relaxing such as the ocean waves or rain falling. You can hear the sound when you sleep if you buy one with pillow speakers.
Hearing aids also do the trick. 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 created by the brain.
A combination of tricks is most effective for most people. You could use hearing aids during the day and use a white noise machine at night, for instance.
If soft sounds aren’t helping or if the tinnitus is more severe, there are medications that could help. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can quite this noise.
Lifestyle Changes to Manage Your Tinnitus
It will also be helpful if you make a few lifestyle changes. A good starting point is identifying what triggers your tinnitus. Keep a diary and make a note of what’s going on when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- Is there a specific sound that is triggering it?
- What did you just eat?
- Did you just drink a soda or a cup of coffee?
Be very precise when you record the information and pretty soon you will notice the patterns which trigger the ringing. Meditation, exercise, and biofeedback can help you avoid stress which can also be responsible.
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:
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Turning the volume down on everything
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Wearing ear protection when around loud noises
That means eat right, get lots of exercise and take high blood pressure medication if it’s prescribed. Lastly, schedule a hearing exam to rule out treatable problems which increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes with it.