Whether or not it’s only with you once in a while or all of the time, the ringing of tinnitus in your ears is annoying. Maybe annoying isn’t the correct word. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk infuriating and downright frustrating might fit better. No matter how you decide to describe that noise that you can’t turn off, it’s a problem. What can you do, though? Is even possible to get rid of that ringing in your ears?
Understand What Tinnitus Is And Why You Have it
Begin by learning more about the condition that is causing the ringing, clicking, 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 per se is not a condition but a sign of something else. For many, that something else is hearing loss. Tinnitus is a typical side effect of hearing decline. Why tinnitus occurs when there is a change in a person’s hearing is still not clear. At this time the theory is that the brain is filling the void by generating noise.
You encounter thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of sounds each day. There is talking, music, car horns, and the TV, as an example, but those are just the obvious noises. The sound of air coming through a vent or the spinning blades of a ceiling fan are not so noticeable. Your brain decides you don’t really need to hear these sounds.
The main point is, hearing these sounds is “normal” for your brain. Shut half those sounds off and how would the brain respond? Confusion happens in the part of the brain that hears sound. It may generate the phantom tinnitus noises to compensate because it recognizes sound should be there.
Hearing loss isn’t the only possible cause of tinnitus, though. It can be attributed to severe health issues like:
- Head or neck tumors
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- A reaction to medication
- Turbulent blood flow
- Poor circulation
- Head or neck trauma
- High blood pressure
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Meniere’s disease
Any of these things can trigger tinnitus. After an injury or accident, even though you can hear fine, you might experience this ringing. Before you look for other methods of dealing with 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 when you determine why you have it. The only thing that works, in many cases, is to give the brain what it wants. If tinnitus is because of the lack of sound, make some. The ringing might be able to be shut off by something as simple as a fan running in the background.
Technology such as a white noise generator is made just for this purpose. They simulate a natural sound that is calming such as the ocean waves or falling rain. You can hear the sound when you sleep if you buy one with pillow speakers.
Hearing aids will also work. With quality hearing aids, you are turning up the volume of the sounds the brain is looking for like the AC running. Hearing aids normalize your hearing enough that the brain has no further need to generate phantom noise.
For many 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 available if soft sounds are not effective or if the tinnitus is more severe. Certain antidepressants can quiet this noise, for example, Xanax.
You Have to Change Your Lifestyle if You Want to Handle Your Tinnitus
It can also be helpful if you make a few lifestyle changes. A good starting point is figuring out what triggers your tinnitus. When the tinnitus starts, note what’s going on and write it down in a journal. Be specific:
- Are you drinking alcohol or smoking a cigarette?
- Did you just have a soda or a cup of coffee?
- 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?
You will start to see the patterns that trigger the ringing if you record the information very precisely. Meditation, exercise, and biofeedback can help you avoid stress which can also be responsible.
An Ounce of Prevention
Preventing tinnitus from the beginning is the best way to deal with it. Begin by doing everything you can to protect your hearing like:
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Turning the volume down on everything
- Using ear protection when around loud noises
Eat right, exercise, and if you have high blood pressure, take your medication. Finally, schedule a hearing exam to rule out treatable issues which increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes along with it.