HEARING TIPS

How to Stop That Annoying Ringing in Your Ears

Woman suffering from ringing in her ears.

The ringing of tinnitus will be annoying whether or not you just hear it sometimes or all of the time. Annoying might not be the right word. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk infuriating and downright frustrating might be better. That noise that you can’t turn off is a problem no matter how you choose to describe it. Can anything be done? How can you prevent that ringing in your ears?

Understand What Tinnitus Is And Why You Have it

Start by learning more about the condition that is causing the buzzing, ringing, clicking 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 per se is not a condition but a symptom of something else. For many people, that something else is loss of hearing. Tinnitus is a result of hearing decline. When there is a change in a person’s hearing, it is still unclear why tinnitus occurs. That the brain is producing the noise to fill the void is the present theory.

Each day you come across thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of sounds. Some obvious examples are car horns, the radio, and people talking. What about the turning of the blades on the ceiling fan or the sound of air blowing through a vent. Your brain decides you don’t really need to hear these sounds.

The main point is, hearing these sounds is “normal” for your brain. Shut half those sounds off and how would the brain act in response? The part of your brain in control of hearing gets confounded. It is possible that the phantom sounds linked with tinnitus are its way of generating sound for it to interpret because it recognizes it should be there.

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

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

Tinnitus can be caused by any of these. Even though you can hear fine, after an injury or accident, you may still experience this ringing. A hearing exam should be scheduled with a doctor before trying to find other ways of dealing with it.

What to do About Tinnitus

You can figure out what to do about it after you determine why you have it. Giving the brain what it wants may be the only thing that helps. You need to produce some sound if your tinnitus is caused by lack of it. It doesn’t need to be much, something as simple as a fan running in the background may generate enough sound to turn off the ringing.

Technology such as a white noise generator is designed just for this purpose. They simulate a natural sound that is soothing such as the ocean waves or falling rain. Some come with 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 generate phantom noise.

For many 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 approach.

If the tinnitus is severe and soft sounds don’t work there are also medications available. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can quite this noise.

Handle You Tinnitus With Lifestyle Changes

Modifying your lifestyle a little bit can help too. Start by determining if there are triggers. Keep a diary and make a note of what’s going on when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:

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

The more precise your information, the faster you’ll see the patterns that could be triggering 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 possible by:

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

Eat right, exercise, and if you have high blood pressure, take your medication. Lastly, schedule a hearing exam to rule out treatable issues that increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes with it.

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