It doesn’t matter if you hear it once in a while or it’s with you all day and night, the ringing of tinnitus is annoying. Annoying may not be the best word. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk aggravating and downright frustrating may be better. That noise that you can’t turn off is a problem no matter how you decide to describe it. What can you do, though? Can that ringing really be stopped?
Understand Why You Have Tinnitus And Exactly What it is
Begin 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. For many, that something else is hearing loss. Tinnitus is a common result of hearing decline. When a person’s hearing changes, it is still not clear why tinnitus happens. The current theory is the brain produces the noise to fill a void.
You experience thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of sounds every single day. There is talking, music, car horns, and the TV, for example, but those are only the noticeable noises. 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 normally heard because the brain decides you don’t really need to hear them.
It’s “normal” for your brain to hear these sounds, is the point. So what happens if you shut half of those sounds off? The portion of your brain in control of hearing becomes bewildered. It might create the phantom tinnitus sounds to compensate because it realizes sound should be there.
Tinnitus has other possible causes also. Severe health problems can also be the cause, like:
- Meniere’s disease
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Turbulent blood flow
- High blood pressure
- A reaction to medication
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Poor circulation
- Head or neck tumors
- Head or neck trauma
Tinnitus can be triggered by any of these things. After an injury or accident, even though you can hear fine, you could experience this ringing. Before you look for other methods of dealing with it, you need to see a doctor to get 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. Giving the brain what it wants may be the only thing that helps. 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 could generate enough sound to turn off that ringing.
A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is designed for this purpose. They imitate relaxing natural sounds such as falling rain or ocean waves. Some include pillow speakers, so you hear the sound as you sleep.
Another thing which 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. Hearing aids normalize your hearing enough that the brain has no further need to generate phantom noise.
For most people, the solution is a combination of tricks. For instance, you might 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 could help. Certain antidepressants can quiet this noise, for example, Xanax.
Lifestyle Changes to Manage Your Tinnitus
Changing your lifestyle a little bit can help too. Identifying if there are triggers is a good place to start. Keep a diary and make a note of what’s happening when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:
- What did you just eat?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- Is there a particular sound that is triggering it?
- Did you just drink a cup of coffee or soda?
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
The more precise your information, the faster you’ll see the patterns that might be triggering the ringing. Meditation, exercise, and biofeedback can help you avoid stress which can also be the cause.
An Ounce of Prevention
The best way to get rid of tinnitus is to prevent it from the start. Start by doing everything possible to protect your hearing like:
- Wearing ear protection when around loud noises
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Turning the volume down on everything
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
If you have high blood pressure, take your medication. Eat right and exercise as well. Finally, schedule a hearing exam to rule out treatable problems which increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes along with it.