It doesn’t matter if you hear it from time to time or it’s with you all of the time, the ringing of tinnitus is annoying. There might be a more appropriate word than annoying. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk aggravating and downright frustrating may fit better. Whatever the description, that sound that you can’t get rid of is a serious issue in your life. So what can be done? Can that ringing actually be stopped?
Understand Why You Have Tinnitus And Exactly What it is
Start by finding out 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 suffers from 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. Hearing loss is often the primary cause of tinnitus. Hearing decline regularly comes with tinnitus as a side effect. Why tinnitus comes about when there is a change in a person’s hearing is still not clear. The latest theory is the brain generates the noise to fill a void.
Thousands, possibly even hundreds of thousands of sounds are encountered each day. There is conversing, music, car horns, and the TV, for example, but those are only the noticeable noises. The sound of air coming through a vent or the spinning blades of a ceiling fan are not as 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 switched off, what happens then? The part of your brain responsible for hearing becomes confused. It is possible that the phantom noises linked with tinnitus are the brains way of creating noise for it to interpret because it recognizes it should be there.
There are also other possible causes of tinnitus, however. It can be connected to severe health problems like:
- A reaction to medication
- Meniere’s disease
- Poor circulation
- Head or neck tumors
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Head or neck trauma
- Turbulent blood flow
- High blood pressure
Tinnitus can be caused by any of these. You may experience the ringing even though you hear fine or after an injury or accident. It’s essential to get get a hearing exam to find out why you’re experiencing tinnitus before searching for ways to deal with it.
What Can be Done About Tinnitus?
You need to find out why you have it before you can begin to determine what to do about it. Giving the brain what it wants may be the only thing that helps. If tinnitus is caused by the lack of sound, generate some. It doesn’t need to be very much, something as basic as a fan running in the background might generate enough noise to turn off that ringing.
There is also technology designed just for this purpose such as white noise machines. They imitate a natural sound that is soothing such as the ocean waves or falling rain. Some have pillow speakers, so you hear the sound when you sleep.
Another thing that 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. The brain doesn’t need to create phantom noises because hearing aids normalize your hearing.
A combination of tricks is most effective for the majority of people. For example, you could use a white noise generator at night and hearing aids during the day.
If soft sounds aren’t helping or if the tinnitus is more severe, there are medications that might help. Certain antidepressants can quiet this noise, for example, Xanax.
Manage You Tinnitus With Lifestyle Changes
Changing your lifestyle a little bit will help too. Start by determining if there are triggers. When the tinnitus starts, note what’s going on and write it down in a journal. 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 drinking alcohol or smoking a cigarette?
- Did you just have a cup of coffee or soda?
- What did you just eat?
You will begin to notice the patterns which induce the ringing if you record the information very specifically. Stress can also be the cause, so try to find ways to relax like exercise, meditation or even biofeedback.
An Ounce of Prevention
Take the correct steps to prevent tinnitus in the first place. Begin by doing everything possible to protect your hearing like:
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- 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 problems that increase your risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional.