Whether or not you hear it periodically or it’s with you all of the time, the ringing of tinnitus can be annoying. There might be a more appropriate word than annoying. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk aggravating and downright frustrating might be better. That noise that you can’t get rid of is a problem no matter how you decide to describe it. So what can be done? Can that ringing really be stopped?
What is Tinnitus And Why do You Have it?
Begin by learning more about the condition that is responsible for 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 is a symptom of something else, not a condition in and of itself. For many people, that something else is hearing loss. Tinnitus is a side effect of hearing decline. Why tinnitus comes about when there is a change in a person’s hearing is still not clear. That the brain is producing the noise to fill the void is the current theory.
You come across thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of sounds every single day. Some obvious examples are car horns, the radio, and people talking. The sound of air blowing through a vent or the rotating blades of a ceiling fan are not so noticeable. You don’t normally 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. Switch half those sounds off and how would the brain react? The part of your brain that deals with hearing gets confounded. It may be possible that the phantom noises that come with tinnitus are the brains way of producing sound for it to interpret because it knows it should be there.
There are also other possible causes of tinnitus, however. It can be connected to severe health issues like:
- Poor circulation
- High blood pressure
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Meniere’s disease
- Head or neck trauma
- Turbulent blood flow
- Head or neck tumors
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- A reaction to medication
Any of these things can cause tinnitus. After an injury or accident, even though you can hear fine, you may experience this ringing. It’s essential to get checked out by a doctor to determine why you’re experiencing tinnitus before searching for ways to deal with it.
What Can be Done About Tinnitus?
You need to find out why you have it before you can start to figure out what to do about it. Sometimes, the only thing that works is to give the brain what it wants. If tinnitus is because of the lack of sound, make 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 falling rain are relaxing natural sounds which these devices simulate. Some have pillow speakers, so you hear the sound as you sleep.
Investing in hearing aids is also a good option. With quality hearing aids, you are turning up the volume of the sounds the brain is looking for like the AC running. Hearing aids normalize your hearing enough that the brain doesn’t need to produce phantom noise.
A combination of tricks is most effective for most people. For example, you could use a white noise generator at night and hearing aids during the day.
There are also medications that you can get if soft sounds are not working or if the tinnitus is more severe. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can silence this noise.
Lifestyle Changes to Manage Your Tinnitus
It will also be helpful if you make a few lifestyle changes. A good starting point is identifying what triggers your tinnitus. Write down in a journal what’s taking place when the tinnitus begins. Be specific:
- Is there a specific sound that is triggering it?
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- What did you just eat?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- Did you just drink a cup of coffee or soda?
The more precise your information, the faster you’ll see the patterns that might be triggering 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 best way to get rid of tinnitus is to protect against it in the first place. Protect your hearing as much as you can by:
- Wearing ear protection when around loud noises
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Turning the volume down on everything
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
That means you have to eat healthily, get plenty of exercise and take high blood pressure medication if it’s prescribed. Lastly, schedule a hearing exam to rule out treatable issues which increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes with it.