The ringing of tinnitus can be annoying whether you just hear it from time to time or all of the time. Perhaps annoying isn’t the correct word. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk aggravating and downright frustrating may be better. That noise that you can’t get rid of is an issue no matter how you choose to describe it. So what can be done? Can that ringing actually be prevented?
Understand What Tinnitus Is And Why You Have it
Start 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 per se is not a condition but a symptom of something else. Loss of hearing is often the main cause of tinnitus. Hearing loss often comes along with tinnitus as a side effect. Why tinnitus comes about when there is a change in a person’s hearing is still unclear. The current theory is the brain generates the noise to fill a void.
Every single day you encounter thousands, possibly even hundreds of thousands of sounds. There are the obvious sounds like a motor running or someone yelling, and then there are sounds you don’t notice. The sound of air coming through a vent or the spinning blades of a ceiling fan are less noticeable. Your brain decides you don’t really need to hear these sounds.
The main point is, hearing these sounds is “normal” for your brain. Turn half those sounds off and how would the brain respond? The portion of your brain in control of hearing becomes bewildered. Your brain realizes the sound should be there so it’s possible that it produces the sounds associated with tinnitus to compensate.
Tinnitus has other possible causes also. Severe health problems can also be the cause, like:
- A reaction to medication
- High blood pressure
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- Meniere’s disease
- Poor circulation
- Turbulent blood flow
- Head or neck tumors
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Head or neck trauma
Tinnitus can be caused by any of these. You may get the ringing despite the fact that you hear fine or possibly after an injury or accident. It’s essential to get checked out by a doctor to find out why you have tinnitus before looking for other ways to deal with it.
What Can be Done About Tinnitus?
Once you discover why you have it, you can determine what to do about it. Giving the brain what it wants may be the only thing that helps. If the lack of sound is the cause of your tinnitus, you need to generate some. It doesn’t have to be very much, something as simple as a fan running in the background might generate enough sound to switch off that ringing.
There is also technology designed specifically for this purpose such as white noise machines. Ocean waves or rain falling are calming natural sounds which these devices simulate. You can hear the sound when you sleep if you get one with pillow speakers.
Hearing aids also work. The sounds the brain is looking for can be turned up using quality hearing aids. Hearing aids normalize your hearing enough that the brain has no further need to create phantom noise.
For the majority of people, the answer is a combination of tricks. You might use hearing aids during the day and use a white noise machine at night, for example.
If soft sounds aren’t helping or if the tinnitus is more severe, there are medications that might help. Certain antidepressants can silence this noise, for example, Xanax.
Manage You Tinnitus With Lifestyle Changes
Modifying your lifestyle a little bit can help as well. Figuring out if there are triggers is a good place to start. Write down in a journal what’s going on when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:
- What did you just eat?
- Did you just drink a soda or a cup of coffee?
- 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?
You will start to see the patterns which induce the ringing if you record the information very specifically. Meditation, exercise, and biofeedback can help you avoid stress which can also be responsible.
An Ounce of Prevention
Take the appropriate steps to prevent tinnitus from the start. 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
- Wearing ear protection when you’re going to be around loud noises
- Turning the volume down on everything
That means 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 problems that increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes with it.