Can That Annoying Ringing in Your Ears be Stopped?
Whether you hear it sporadically or it’s with you all day and night, 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. That sound that you can’t get rid of is a problem however you choose to describe it. So what can be done? Is even possible to get rid of that ringing in your ears?
Know What Tinnitus Is And Why You Have it
Begin by finding out 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 suffers from tinnitus, which is the medical name for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus is a symptom of something else, not a condition itself. That something else is loss of hearing for many. Hearing loss often comes along with tinnitus as a side effect. It’s not really evident why tinnitus occurs when there is a decline in a person’s hearing. At this time the theory is that the brain is filling the void by generating noise.
Thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of sounds are encountered each day. There is talking, music, car horns, and the TV, for example, but those are just the obvious noises. The sound of air blowing through a vent or the rotating blades of a ceiling fan are not as noticeable. These sorts of sound are not generally heard because the brain decides you don’t need to hear them.
The main point is, hearing these sounds is “normal” for your brain. Shut half those sounds off and how would the brain respond? It becomes perplexing for the portion of your brain that hears sound. Your brain knows the sound should be there so it’s possible that it creates the noises connected with tinnitus to compensate.
There are also other possible causes of tinnitus, however. Severe health problems can also be the cause, such as:
- Poor circulation
- Turbulent blood flow
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Head or neck trauma
- High blood pressure
- A reaction to medication
- Head or neck tumors
- Meniere’s disease
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
Any of these can cause tinnitus. You may experience the ringing even though you hear fine or after an injury or accident. Before you look for other methods of dealing with it, you should schedule an appointment with a doctor to have a hearing exam.
What to do About Tinnitus
You need to know why you have it before you can begin to figure out what to do about it. In some cases, the only thing that works is to give the brain what it wants. If the lack of sound is the cause of your tinnitus, you need to generate some. It doesn’t have to be very much, something as basic as a fan running in the background might generate enough noise to switch off the ringing.
A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is designed specifically for this purpose. Ocean waves or rain falling are calming natural sounds that these devices simulate. 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 listening for like the AC running. Because your hearing is normalized, phantom sounds are no longer generated by the brain.
For most people, the answer is a combination of tricks. 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 severe, there are medications that could help. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can quite this noise.
You Have to Change Your Lifestyle if You Want to Manage Your Tinnitus
Modifying your lifestyle a little bit can help as well. Start by determining if there are triggers. Keep a record and make a note of what’s going on when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:
- Are you drinking alcohol or smoking a cigarette?
- What did you just eat?
- Is there a particular noise that is triggering it?
- Did you just have a cup of coffee or soda?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
You will start to see the patterns which trigger the ringing if you record the information very accurately. Stress can also be the cause, so look for ways to relax like exercise, meditation or even biofeedback.
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
- Wearing ear protection when you’re going to be around loud noises
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
If you have high blood pressure, take your medication. Eat right and exercise as well. To eliminate treatable problems which increase your risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional.