Whether or not it’s only with you periodically or you hear it all of the time, the ringing of tinnitus in your ears is annoying. Annoying might not be the right word. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk infuriating and downright frustrating may be 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?
Why do You Have Tinnitus And What Exactly Causes it?
Begin by finding out more about the condition that is causing the buzzing, ringing, clicking or roaring you hear. It’s estimated as much as 10 percent of the U.S. population endures 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 people, that something else is loss of hearing. Hearing decline typically comes with tinnitus as a side effect. It’s not really evident why tinnitus happens when there is a decline in a person’s hearing. The current theory is the brain generates the noise to fill a void.
Each and every day you come across thousands, possibly even hundreds of thousands of sounds. There is conversing, music, car horns, and the TV, as an example, but those are only the obvious noises. The sound of air coming through a vent or the spinning blades of a ceiling fan are not as obvious. These types of sound are not usually heard because the brain decides you don’t really need to hear them.
The point is, hearing these sounds is “normal” for your brain. If half of those sounds are switched off, what happens then? Confusion occurs in the part of the brain that hears sound. It might 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 linked to severe health issues like:
- Meniere’s disease
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Head or neck tumors
- Turbulent blood flow
- A reaction to medication
- Poor circulation
- High blood pressure
- Head or neck trauma
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
Tinnitus can be triggered by any of these. You may experience the ringing despite the fact that you hear fine or possibly after an injury or accident. Before searching for other ways to get rid of it, you need to consult a doctor to get a hearing exam.
Can Anything be Done About Tinnitus?
You need to find out why you have it before you can begin to figure out what to do about it. In some cases, the only thing that helps is to give the brain what it wants. You need to make some sound if your tinnitus is caused by lack of it. The ringing might be able to be shut off by something as simple as a fan running in the background.
A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is designed just for this purpose. They imitate a natural sound that is soothing like the ocean waves or rain falling. Some include pillow speakers, so you hear the sound as you sleep.
Another thing that 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. Hearing aids normalize your hearing enough that the brain doesn’t need to generate phantom noise.
For the majority of people, the answer is a combination of tricks. Using a white noise generator at night and wearing hearing aids during the day are examples of this approach.
There are also medications that you can get if soft sounds are not working 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 Handle Your Tinnitus
Making a few lifestyle modifications can help, too. Begin by determining what the triggers are. Write down in a journal what’s going on when the tinnitus begins. Be specific:
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- Did you just drink a soda or a cup of coffee?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- What did you just eat?
- Is there a specific noise that is triggering it?
The more accurate your information, the faster you’ll see the patterns that might 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. Begin by doing everything possible to protect your hearing like:
- Using ear protection when around loud noises
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Turning down the volume on everything
Eat right, exercise, and if you have high blood pressure, take your medication. Lastly, schedule a hearing exam to rule out treatable problems that increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes with it.