Enhanced Hearing Center - Springfield, MO

Woman suffering from ringing in her ears.

Whether or not it’s only with you periodically or all of the time, the ringing of tinnitus in your ears is annoying. Perhaps annoying isn’t the best word. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk aggravating? No matter what the description, that noise that you can’t get rid of is a big problem in your life. What can you do, though? How can you prevent that ringing in your ears?

What is Tinnitus And Why do You Have it?

Begin by learning 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 suffers from tinnitus, which is the medical name for that ringing. But why?

Tinnitus is a symptom of something else, not a condition in and of itself. That something else is hearing loss for many people. Tinnitus is a typical side effect of hearing decline. It’s not really evident why tinnitus appears when there is a change in a person’s hearing. At this time the theory is that the brain is filling the void by generating noise.

Thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of sounds are encountered each day. There is talking, music, car horns, and the TV, as an example, but those are only the noticeable noises. How about the spinning of the blades on the ceiling fan or the sound of air coming into a vent. These kinds of sound are not normally heard because the brain decides you don’t need to hear them.

The point is, hearing these sounds is “normal” for your brain. So what happens if you turn half of those sounds off? Confusion occurs in the portion of the brain that hears sound. It may generate the phantom tinnitus noises to compensate because it recognizes sound should be there.

Hearing loss isn’t the only possible cause of tinnitus, though. Severe health problems can also be the cause, such as:

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

Any of these things can trigger tinnitus. After an injury or accident, even though you can hear fine, you could experience this ringing. It’s important to get checked out by a doctor to determine why you’re experiencing 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 start to determine what to do about it. The only thing that works, sometimes, is to give the brain what it wants. If the lack of sound is causing your tinnitus, you need to generate some. A sound as simple as a fan running in the background may create enough sound to turn off the ringing, it doesn’t have to be much.

A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is made just for this purpose. Ocean waves or falling rain are soothing natural sounds which these devices simulate. You can hear the sound as you sleep if you get one with pillow speakers.

Another thing which also works is hearing aids. With quality hearing aids, you are turning up the volume of the sounds the brain is looking for like the AC running. The brain has no further need to generate phantom noises because hearing aids normalize your hearing.

For the majority of 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 quite this noise.

You Have to Change Your Lifestyle if You Want to Handle Your Tinnitus

Changing your lifestyle a little bit can help as well. Identifying if there are triggers is a good place to begin. Write down in a journal what’s taking place when the tinnitus starts. 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 smoking or drinking alcohol?
  • Did you just drink a cup of coffee or soda?
  • What did you just eat?

The more precise your information, the faster you’ll see the patterns that could be triggering the ringing. You should find ways to relax such as biofeedback, exercise, and meditation because stress can also be responsible.

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
  • Turning down the volume on everything
  • Using ear protection when you’re going to be around loud noises
  • Taking care of your cardiovascular system

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

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