The ringing of tinnitus can be annoying whether or not you just hear it periodically or all of the time. Maybe annoying isn’t the right word. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk infuriating and downright frustrating might be better. Regardless of the description, that noise that you can’t turn off is a big problem in your life. Can anything be done? How can you get rid of that ringing in your ears?
What is Tinnitus And Why do You Have it?
Begin by learning 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 endures tinnitus, which is the medical name for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus itself is not a condition but a symptom of something else. That something else is hearing loss for many people. Tinnitus is a common side effect of hearing decline. When there is a change in a person’s hearing, it is still unclear why tinnitus happens. That the brain is creating the noise to fill the void is the current theory.
Thousands, possibly even hundreds of thousands of sounds are encountered each day. Some noticeable examples are car horns, the radio, and people talking. What about the spinning of the blades on the ceiling fan or the sound of air blowing into a vent. You don’t really hear these sounds, but that’s only because your brain decides you don’t need to.
It’s “normal” for your brain to hear these sounds, is the point. Now, what happens if you shut half of those sounds off? Confusion takes place in the part of the brain that hears sound. It is possible that the phantom noises associated with tinnitus are the brain’s way of producing sound for it to interpret because it recognizes it should be there.
There are also other possible causes of tinnitus, however. It can be connected to severe health problems like:
- Head or neck trauma
- Head or neck tumors
- Turbulent blood flow
- High blood pressure
- Poor circulation
- A reaction to medication
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Meniere’s disease
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
Tinnitus can be caused by any of these things. Even though you can hear fine, after an injury or accident, you might still experience this ringing. It’s important to get get a hearing exam to determine why you have tinnitus before searching for ways to get rid of it.
What Can be Done About Tinnitus?
When you find out why you have it, you can figure out what to do about it. Giving the brain what it wants might be the only thing that helps. If tinnitus is caused by the lack of sound, create some. It doesn’t need to be much, something as basic as a fan running in the background may generate enough sound to switch off that ringing.
Technology such as a white noise generator is made just for this purpose. Ocean waves or rain falling are calming natural sounds which these devices simulate. Some have pillow speakers, so you hear the sound when you sleep.
Another thing which also works well 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 has no further need to create phantom noise.
For many people, the solution 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 successful 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
Making a few lifestyle changes can help, too. A good starting place is figuring out what triggers your tinnitus. Write down in a journal what’s happening when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:
- 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?
- Did you just drink a cup of coffee or soda?
- Is there a specific noise that is triggering it?
Be very precise when you record the information and pretty soon you will see the patterns which trigger the ringing. You should find ways to relax like biofeedback, exercise, and meditation because stress can also be the cause.
An Ounce of Prevention
Take the correct steps to prevent tinnitus from the start. Protect your hearing as much as possible by:
- Turning down the volume on everything
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Wearing ear protection when you’re going to be around loud noises
If you have high blood pressure, take your medication. Eat right and exercise also. To eliminate treatable issues that increase your risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional.