The ringing of tinnitus can be annoying whether you only hear it sometimes or all of the time. Perhaps annoying isn’t the best word. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk irritating? No matter how you decide to describe that noise that you can’t seem to turn off, it’s an issue. What can you do, though? Can that ringing really be prevented?
What is Tinnitus And Why do You Have it?
Start by learning 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 suffers from tinnitus, which is the medical name for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus is a symptom of something else, not a condition in and of itself. That something else is hearing loss for many people. Hearing decline frequently comes with tinnitus as a side effect. When there is a change in a person’s hearing, it is still not clear why tinnitus happens. At this time the theory is that the brain is filling the void by creating noise.
You come across thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of sounds every day. Some noticeable examples are car horns, the radio, and people talking. How 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.
The main point is, hearing these sounds is “normal” for your brain. Shut half those sounds off and how would the brain act in response? The part of your brain responsible for hearing becomes confounded. It might produce the phantom tinnitus sounds to compensate because it knows sound should be there.
Tinnitus has other possible causes as well. Severe health problems can also be the cause, such as:
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Poor circulation
- Head or neck trauma
- A reaction to medication
- Head or neck tumors
- Meniere’s disease
- Turbulent blood flow
- High blood pressure
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
Any of these things can cause tinnitus. Even though you can hear fine, after an injury or accident, you may still experience this ringing. Before searching for other ways to get rid of it, you need to see a doctor to get a hearing exam.
What Can be Done About Tinnitus?
When you discover why you have it, you can determine 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 causing your tinnitus, you need to create some. The ringing may be able to be shut off by something as basic as a fan running in the background.
Technology such as a white noise generator is made just for this purpose. Ocean waves or rain falling are calming natural sounds that these devices simulate. You can hear the sound as you sleep if you buy one with pillow speakers.
Hearing aids also do the trick. With quality hearing aids, you are turning up the volume of the sounds the brain is listening for like the AC running. The brain has no further need to create phantom noises because hearing aids normalize your hearing.
A combination of tricks works the best for most people. You could wear hearing aids during the day and use a white noise machine at night, for example.
If the tinnitus is more severe and soft sounds don’t work there are also medications available. Certain antidepressants can silence this noise, for example, Xanax.
Handle You Tinnitus With Lifestyle Changes
It will also be helpful if you make a few lifestyle modifications. A good starting point is identifying what triggers your tinnitus. When the tinnitus starts, note what’s going on and write it down in a log. Be specific:
- What did you just eat?
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- Is there a specific sound that is triggering it?
- Did you just drink a soda or a cup of coffee?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
Be very precise when you record the information and pretty soon you will notice the patterns which trigger the ringing. Meditation, exercise, and biofeedback can help you avoid stress which can also be the cause.
An Ounce of Prevention
Take the correct steps to prevent tinnitus from the start. Start by doing everything possible to protect your hearing like:
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Turning down the volume on everything
- Using ear protection when you’re going to be around loud noises
That means you have to eat right, get lots of exercise and take high blood pressure medication if it’s prescribed. Finally, schedule a hearing exam to rule out treatable issues that increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes with it.