Whether you only hear it once in a while or all of the time, the ringing of tinnitus in your ears is annoying. Maybe annoying isn’t the correct word. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk infuriating? Whatever the description, that noise that you can’t get rid of is a big problem in your life. What can you do, though? Can that ringing actually be prevented?
Understand What Tinnitus Is And Why You Have it
Start 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 experiences 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 hearing loss. Hearing loss often comes along with tinnitus as a side effect. When a person’s hearing changes, it is still not clear why tinnitus occurs. The latest theory is the brain generates the noise to fill a void.
Each day you experience thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of sounds. There are the obvious sounds like a motor running or someone yelling, and then there are noises you don’t even notice. What about the spinning of the blades on the ceiling fan or the sound of air coming into a vent. You don’t really hear these sounds, but that’s only because your brain decides you don’t need to.
The main point is, hearing these sounds is “normal” for your brain. Shut half those sounds off and how would the brain react? The part of your brain responsible for hearing becomes confused. It might generate the phantom tinnitus sounds to compensate because it recognizes sound should be there.
Tinnitus has other possible causes also. It can be connected to severe health problems like:
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Head or neck trauma
- A reaction to medication
- Meniere’s disease
- Poor circulation
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Turbulent blood flow
- Head or neck tumors
- High blood pressure
Tinnitus can be caused by any of these things. After an injury or accident, even though you can hear fine, you could experience this ringing. It’s important to get get a hearing exam to determine why you’re experiencing tinnitus before searching for other ways to get rid of it.
Can Anything be Done About Tinnitus?
You need to know why you have it before you can begin to figure out what to do about it. The only thing that helps, in many cases, is to give the brain what it wants. If the lack of sound is the cause of your tinnitus, you need to create some. Something as simple as a fan running in the background may generate enough noise to shut off the ringing, it doesn’t need to be much.
Technology such as a white noise generator is designed just for this purpose. They simulate calming natural sounds such as rain falling or ocean waves. You can hear the sound as you sleep if you get one with pillow speakers.
Getting hearing aids is also a good option. The sounds the brain is looking for can be turned up using quality hearing aids. Because your hearing is normalized, phantom sounds are no longer created by the brain.
A combination of tricks works the best for the majority of people. You could use hearing aids during the day and use a white noise machine at night, for example.
If soft sounds aren’t helping or if the tinnitus is severe, there are medications that might help. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can quite this noise.
Handle You Tinnitus With Lifestyle Changes
It will also help if you make a few lifestyle changes. Start by determining if there are triggers. Keep a journal and make a note of what’s happening when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:
- Is there a particular sound that is triggering it?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- Are you drinking alcohol or smoking a cigarette?
- What did you just eat?
- Did you just drink a cup of coffee or soda?
You will begin to notice the patterns which trigger the ringing if you record the information very precisely. You should find ways to relax like biofeedback, exercise, and meditation because stress can also be responsible.
An Ounce of Prevention
Take the appropriate steps to prevent tinnitus from the start. Start by doing everything possible to protect your hearing like:
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Wearing ear protection when you’re going to be around loud noises
- Turning down the volume on everything
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
That means eat healthily, get plenty of exercise and take high blood pressure medication if it’s prescribed. To rule out treatable issues that increase your risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional.