It doesn’t matter if you hear it from time to time or it’s with you all day and night, the ringing of tinnitus is annoying. Annoying may not be the right word. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk aggravating and downright frustrating might fit better. Whatever the description, that sound that you can’t turn off is a serious issue in your life. What can you do, though? How can you get rid of that ringing in your ears?
Understand Why You Have Tinnitus And Exactly What it is
Start by finding out more about the condition that is responsible for 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 is a symptom of something else, not a condition itself. For many, that something else is hearing loss. 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. That the brain is generating the sound to fill the void is the current theory.
Thousands, possibly even hundreds of thousands of sounds are encountered each day. There is conversing, music, car horns, and the TV, for example, but those are only the noticeable noises. What about the spinning of the blades on the ceiling fan or the sound of air coming into a vent. These types of sound are not normally heard because the brain decides you don’t really need to hear them.
It’s “normal” for your brain to hear these sounds, is the point. Shut half those sounds off and how would the brain respond? The part of your brain responsible for hearing becomes confused. It may produce the phantom tinnitus sounds to compensate because it knows sound should be there.
There are also other possible causes of tinnitus, however. It can be linked to severe health issues like:
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- High blood pressure
- Meniere’s disease
- A reaction to medication
- Poor circulation
- Turbulent blood flow
- Head or neck tumors
- Head or neck trauma
Tinnitus can be triggered by any of these. You might experience the ringing despite the fact that you hear fine or after an injury or accident. It’s important to get checked out by a doctor to determine why you have tinnitus before searching for ways to get rid of it.
What Can be Done About Tinnitus?
You need to know why you have it before you can begin to determine what to do about it. Giving the brain what it wants may be the only thing that works. You have to produce some sound if your tinnitus is caused by lack of it. It doesn’t need to be very much, something as basic as a fan running in the background may generate enough noise to turn off the ringing.
A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is designed for this purpose. They simulate a natural sound that is soothing like the ocean waves or rain falling. You can hear the sound as you sleep if you get 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. Hearing aids normalize your hearing enough that the brain no longer needs to generate phantom noise.
A combination of tricks works best for most people. For example, you might use a white noise generator at night and hearing aids during the day.
If the tinnitus is more severe and soft sounds don’t work there are also medications available. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can quite this noise.
Manage You Tinnitus With Lifestyle Changes
It can also be helpful if you make a few lifestyle changes. Begin by determining if there are triggers. When the tinnitus starts, note what’s happening and write it down in a log. Be specific:
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- Is there a particular sound that is triggering it?
- Are you drinking alcohol or smoking a cigarette?
- Did you just drink a cup of coffee or soda?
- What did you just eat?
You will start to discover the patterns that trigger the ringing if you record the information very specifically. Stress can also be responsible, so look for ways to relax such as exercise, meditation or even biofeedback.
An Ounce of Prevention
Preventing tinnitus in the first place is the best way to deal with it. Begin by doing everything you can to protect your hearing like:
- Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
- Taking care of your cardiovascular system
- Turning the volume down on everything
- Wearing ear protection when around loud noises
That means you have to eat right, get plenty of exercise and take high blood pressure medication if it’s prescribed. Lastly, schedule a hearing exam to rule out treatable issues that increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes along with it.