Whether or not you hear it periodically or it’s with you all of the time, the ringing of tinnitus is annoying. Perhaps annoying isn’t the correct word. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk aggravating and downright frustrating might be better. That sound that you can’t get rid of is an issue however you decide to describe it. What can you do, though? Can that ringing really be prevented?
Know Why You Have Tinnitus And Exactly What it is
Begin by finding out more about the condition that is causing the ringing, clicking, buzzing, or roaring you hear. It’s estimated as much as 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from tinnitus, which is the medical term for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus is a symptom of something else, not a condition itself. That something else is hearing loss for many people. Tinnitus is a typical result of hearing decline. When there is a change in a person’s hearing, it is still not clear why tinnitus happens. That the brain is creating the sound to fill the void is the present theory.
You come across thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of sounds every single day. There is conversing, music, car horns, and the TV, for example, but those are only the obvious noises. The sound of air blowing through a vent or the spinning blades of a ceiling fan are less obvious. You don’t normally 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. Now, what happens if you turn half of those sounds off? The part of your brain in control of hearing becomes confused. Your brain realizes the sound should be there so it’s possible that it produces the noises associated with tinnitus to fill in the blanks.
There are also other possible causes of tinnitus, however. Severe health issues can also be the cause, such as:
- Turbulent blood flow
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- High blood pressure
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Head or neck trauma
- A reaction to medication
- Head or neck tumors
- Meniere’s disease
- Poor circulation
Any of these can trigger tinnitus. After an injury or accident, even though you can hear fine, you might experience this ringing. A hearing exam should be scheduled with a doctor before trying to find another way of dealing with it.
Can Anything be Done About Tinnitus?
You can decide what to do about it after you determine why you have it. The only thing that helps, in many cases, is to give the brain what it wants. You need to create some sound if your tinnitus is caused by lack of it. The ringing may be able to be turned off by something as simple as a fan running in the background.
There is also technology made just for this purpose such as white noise machines. They imitate soothing natural sounds such as falling rain or ocean waves. You can hear the sound when you sleep if you get one with pillow speakers.
Hearing aids will 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 no longer needs to generate phantom noises because hearing aids normalize your hearing.
A combination of tricks is most effective for the majority of people. Using a white noise generator at night and wearing hearing aids during the day are examples of this strategy.
There are also medications that you can get if soft sounds are not effective or if the tinnitus is severe. Certain antidepressants can quiet this noise, for example, Xanax.
Handle You Tinnitus With Lifestyle Changes
Modifying your lifestyle a little bit will help too. Identifying if there are triggers is a good place to begin. Keep a journal and make a note of what’s going on when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:
- What did you just eat?
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- Is there a specific noise that is triggering it?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
- Did you just drink a cup of coffee or soda?
You will start to discover the patterns that induce the ringing if you record the information very specifically. Stress can also be responsible, so try to find ways to relax such as exercise, meditation or even biofeedback.
An Ounce of Prevention
Preventing tinnitus from the beginning is the best way to deal with it. Start by doing everything possible 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 you’re going to be around loud noises
That means eat right, get plenty 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 along with it.