Hearing Health Blog

Woman suffering from ringing in her ears.

The ringing of tinnitus is annoying whether or not you just hear it once in a while or all of the time. Perhaps annoying isn’t the best word. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk aggravating and downright frustrating might be better. That noise that you can’t get rid of is an issue however you choose to describe it. So what can be done? Can that ringing actually be prevented?

Why do You Have Tinnitus And What Exactly Causes it?

Begin by learning more about the condition that is responsible for 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 term for that ringing. But why?

Tinnitus is a symptom of something else, not a condition in and of itself. Hearing loss is often the leading cause of tinnitus. Tinnitus is a common result of hearing decline. When there is a change in a person’s hearing, it is still not clear why tinnitus occurs. At this time the theory is that the brain is filling the void by creating noise.

Every single day you come across thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of sounds. There is talking, music, car horns, and the TV, for example, but those are only the noticeable noises. The sound of air coming through a vent or the rotating blades of a ceiling fan are less obvious. 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. If half of those sounds are turned off, what happens then? It becomes confusing for the part of your brain that hears sound. It is possible that the phantom noises that come with tinnitus are the brain’s way of producing noise for it to interpret because it knows it should be there.

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

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

Any of these things can trigger tinnitus. Even though you can hear fine, after an injury or accident, you may still experience this ringing. It’s important to get get a hearing exam to find out why you’re experiencing tinnitus before searching for ways to get rid of it.

Can Anything be Done About Tinnitus?

You can figure out what to do about it when you find out why you have it. Giving the brain what it wants might be the only thing that works. If tinnitus is because of the lack of sound, make some. It doesn’t need to be much, something as basic as a fan running in the background may generate enough sound to turn off that ringing.

A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is designed specifically for this purpose. They imitate soothing natural sounds like rain falling or ocean waves. You can hear the sound when you sleep if you buy one with pillow speakers.

Getting hearing aids is also a good option. You can turn up the sounds that your brain is listening for, like the AC running, with quality hearing aids. The brain no longer needs to generate phantom noises because hearing aids normalize your hearing.

For the majority of people, the solution 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 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.

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Your Tinnitus

Modifying your lifestyle a little bit will help as well. Determining if there are triggers is a good place to begin. Keep a record and make a note of what’s happening when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:

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

The more specific your information, the faster you’ll see the patterns that might be inducing the ringing. You should find ways to relax like biofeedback, exercise, and meditation because stress can also be responsible.

An Ounce of Prevention

The best way to get rid of tinnitus is to prevent it in the first place. Begin by doing everything possible to protect your hearing like:

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

That means you have to 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 issues which increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes with it.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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