HEARING TIPS

How Can You Stop That Frustrating Ringing in Your Ears?

Woman suffering from ringing in her ears.

Whether you only hear it sometimes or all of the time, the ringing of tinnitus in your ears is annoying. Maybe annoying isn’t the correct word. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk irritating? No matter how you choose to describe that noise that you can’t turn off, it’s an issue. So what can be done? Can that ringing actually be stopped?

What is Tinnitus And Why do You Have it?

Start by finding out more about the condition that is responsible for the ringing, clicking, buzzing, or roaring you hear. It’s estimated as much as 10 percent of the U.S. population experiences 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 typically comes with tinnitus as a side effect. When a person’s hearing changes, it is still unclear why tinnitus happens. The latest theory is the brain generates the noise to fill a void.

Each day you come across thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of sounds. There is talking, music, car horns, and the TV, as an example, but those are only the obvious noises. What about the spinning of the blades on the ceiling fan or the sound of air coming into a vent. Your brain decides you don’t really need to hear these sounds.

It’s “normal” for your brain to hear these sounds, is the point. Switch half those sounds off and how would the brain respond? Confusion occurs in the part of the brain that hears sound. It might create the phantom tinnitus sounds to compensate because it recognizes sound should be there.

There are also other possible causes of tinnitus, however. It can be linked to severe health problems like:

  • Turbulent blood flow
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Poor circulation
  • Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
  • Head or neck trauma
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
  • High blood pressure
  • A reaction to medication
  • Head or neck tumors

Tinnitus can be triggered by any of these. Even though you can hear fine, after an injury or accident, you may still experience this ringing. It’s essential to get checked out by a doctor to find out why you’re experiencing tinnitus before searching for other ways to get rid of it.

What to do About Tinnitus

You can decide what to do about it after you find out why you have it. Sometimes, the only thing that helps is to give the brain what it wants. If the lack of sound is the cause of your tinnitus, you need to generate some. It doesn’t have to be much, something as simple as a fan running in the background could generate enough sound to shut off the ringing.

A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is designed specifically 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 get one with pillow speakers.

Investing in hearing aids is also a good solution. You can turn up the sounds that your brain is listening for, like the AC running, with quality hearing aids. Because your hearing is normalized, phantom sounds are no longer generated by the brain.

For most people, the answer is a combination of tricks. Using a white noise generator at night and wearing hearing aids during the day are examples of this strategy.

If soft sounds aren’t helping or if the tinnitus is more severe, there are medications that could help. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can silence this noise.

Handle You Tinnitus With Lifestyle Changes

Changing your lifestyle a little bit will help as well. Figuring out if there are triggers is a good place to start. Keep a journal and make a note of what’s going on when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:

  • Did you just have a soda or a cup of coffee?
  • What did you just eat?
  • Are you drinking alcohol or smoking a cigarette?
  • Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
  • Is there a particular noise that is triggering it?

Be very specific 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

Preventing tinnitus in the first place is the best way to deal with it. Protect your hearing as much as you can by:

  • Using ear protection when around loud noises
  • Taking care of your cardiovascular system
  • Not wearing earbuds or headphones when listening to music
  • Turning down the volume on everything

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 problems which increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes with it.

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