It doesn’t matter if you hear it sporadically or it’s with you all of the time, the ringing of tinnitus can be annoying. There might be a more suitable word than annoying. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk aggravating? That sound that you can’t turn off is an issue however you decide to describe it. So what can be done? Is even possible to prevent that ringing in your ears?
What is Tinnitus And Why do You Have it?
Begin by finding out more about the condition that is responsible for the ringing, clicking, 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 itself is not a condition but a sign of something else. For many people, that something else is loss of hearing. Hearing decline commonly comes along with tinnitus as a side effect. When a person’s hearing changes, it is still not clear why tinnitus occurs. That the brain is producing the sound to fill the void is the current theory.
Thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of sounds are encountered each day. Some noticeable examples are car horns, the radio, and people talking. The sound of air blowing through a vent or the spinning blades of a ceiling fan are not so obvious. These types of sound are not usually heard because the brain decides you don’t need to hear them.
The point is, hearing these sounds is “normal” for your brain. Shut half those sounds off and how would the brain react? The portion of your brain responsible for hearing gets confounded. It might create the phantom tinnitus sounds to compensate because it recognizes sound should be there.
Tinnitus has other possible causes as well. Severe health issues can also be the cause, such as:
- Meniere’s disease
- Head or neck trauma
- High blood pressure
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Head or neck tumors
- Turbulent blood flow
- Poor circulation
- A reaction to medication
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
Any of these can cause tinnitus. After an injury or accident, even though you can hear fine, you may experience this ringing. Before looking for other ways to get rid of it, you should schedule an appointment with a doctor to get a hearing exam.
Can Anything be Done About Tinnitus?
You can decide what to do about it after you find out why you have it. The only thing that helps, sometimes, is to give the brain what it wants. You need to produce some sound if your tinnitus is caused by lack of it. A sound as basic as a fan running in the background could produce enough noise to shut off the ringing, it doesn’t need to be much.
There is also technology designed just for this purpose such as white noise machines. They imitate calming natural sounds like falling rain or ocean waves. You can hear the sound when you sleep if you buy one with pillow speakers.
Getting hearing aids is also a good option. The sounds the brain is listening for can be turned up using quality hearing aids. Hearing aids normalize your hearing enough that the brain no longer needs to create phantom noise.
For many people, the answer is a combination of tricks. For instance, you might use a white noise generator at night and hearing aids during the day.
There are also medications that you can get if soft sounds are not successful or if the tinnitus is severe. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can silence this noise.
You Have to Change Your Lifestyle if You Want to Manage Your Tinnitus
Making a few lifestyle changes will help, as well. Figuring out if there are triggers is a good place to begin. Write down in a journal what’s happening when the tinnitus begins. Be specific:
- What did you just eat?
- Did you just have a soda or a cup of coffee?
- Is there a specific noise that is triggering it?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
The more precise your information, the faster you’ll notice the patterns that could be inducing the ringing. You should find ways to relax such as biofeedback, exercise, and meditation because stress can also be responsible.
An Ounce of Prevention
Preventing tinnitus from the beginning is the best way to deal with it. Start by doing everything you can to protect your hearing like:
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Wearing ear protection when around loud noises
- Turning down the volume on everything
That means you have to eat healthily, get lots of exercise and take high blood pressure medication if it’s prescribed. Lastly, schedule a hearing exam to rule out treatable issues that increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes with it.