Whether or not you only hear it sometimes or you hear it all of the time, the ringing of tinnitus in your ears can be annoying. There may be a more suitable word than annoying. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk infuriating and downright frustrating might fit better. Whatever the description, that noise that you can’t turn off is a big problem in your life. So what can be done? How can you prevent that ringing in your ears?
Know What Tinnitus Is And Why You Have it
Begin by learning more about the condition that is responsible for the clicking, ringing, buzzing, or roaring you hear. It’s estimated as much as 10 percent of the U.S. population endures tinnitus, which is the medical term for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus itself is not a condition but a sign of something else. For many, that something else is loss of hearing. Hearing decline frequently comes along with tinnitus as a side effect. When there is a change in a person’s hearing, it is still unclear why tinnitus happens. That the brain is producing the sound to fill the void is the present theory.
Thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of sounds are encountered each day. There is conversing, music, car horns, and the TV, for example, but those are just the noticeable noises. What about the spinning of the blades on the ceiling fan or the sound of air coming into a vent. Your brain decides you don’t really need to hear these sounds.
The point is, hearing these sounds is “normal” for your brain. If half of those sounds are shut off, what happens then? Confusion happens in the part of the brain that hears sound. It may generate the phantom tinnitus noises to compensate because it knows sound should be there.
Hearing loss isn’t the only possible cause of tinnitus, though. It can be attributed to severe health problems like:
- Head or neck trauma
- Turbulent blood flow
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- A reaction to medication
- High blood pressure
- Poor circulation
- Head or neck tumors
- Meniere’s disease
Any of these things can trigger tinnitus. You may get the ringing despite the fact that you hear fine or possibly after an injury or accident. It’s essential to get checked out by a doctor to find out why you’re experiencing tinnitus before searching for ways to get rid of it.
What Can be Done About Tinnitus?
You can figure out what to do about it when you find out why you have it. Giving the brain what it wants might be the only thing that helps. If the lack of sound is the cause of your tinnitus, you need to create some. It doesn’t have to be much, something as simple as a fan running in the background may generate enough noise to shut off that ringing.
Technology such as a white noise generator is designed just for this purpose. Ocean waves or falling rain are soothing natural sounds that these devices simulate. Some include pillow speakers, so you hear the sound when you sleep.
Another thing which also works is hearing aids. With quality hearing aids, you are turning up the volume of the sounds the brain is listening for like the AC running. The brain no longer needs to generate phantom noises because hearing aids normalize your hearing.
A combination of tricks works the best for most people. You could use hearing aids during the day and use a white noise machine at night, for instance.
There are also medications that you can get if soft sounds are not effective or if the tinnitus is more severe. Certain antidepressants can silence this noise, for example, Xanax.
You Have to Alter Your Lifestyle if You Want to Manage Your Tinnitus
Changing your lifestyle a little bit will help as well. Identifying if there are triggers is a good place to begin. Keep a journal and make a note of what’s going on when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:
- Is there a specific noise that is triggering it?
- Did you just have a soda or a cup of coffee?
- What did you just eat?
- Are you drinking alcohol or smoking a cigarette?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
The more specific your information, the faster you’ll notice the patterns that could be inducing the ringing. Stress can also be responsible, so look for ways to relax such as exercise, meditation or even biofeedback.
An Ounce of Prevention
The ideal way to get rid of tinnitus is to protect against it from the beginning. Start by doing everything you can to protect your hearing like:
- Using ear protection when you’re going to be around loud noises
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Turning down the volume on everything
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
If you have high blood pressure, take your medication. Eat right and exercise also. Lastly, schedule a hearing exam to rule out treatable issues that increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes along with it.