Whether or not you hear it occasionally or it’s with you all day and night, the ringing of tinnitus can be annoying. Annoying may not be the right word. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk aggravating? However you decide to describe that sound that you can’t turn off, it’s an issue. So what can be done? Can that ringing really be prevented?
Know 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 term for that ringing. But why?
Tinnitus itself is not a condition but a sign of something else. That something else is hearing loss for many people. Hearing loss often comes along with tinnitus as a side effect. When a person’s hearing changes, it is still not clear why tinnitus occurs. That the brain is producing the noise to fill the void is the present theory.
Each day you experience thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of sounds. Some noticeable examples are car horns, the radio, and people talking. What about the spinning of the blades on the ceiling fan or the sound of air coming into a vent. These types of sound are not typically heard because the brain decides you don’t really need to hear them.
It’s “normal” for your brain to hear these sounds, is the point. Switch half those sounds off and how would the brain act in response? It becomes perplexing for the part of your brain that hears sound. Your brain recognizes the sound should be there so it’s possible that it produces the sounds associated with tinnitus to compensate.
There are also other possible causes of tinnitus, however. It can be attributed to severe health issues like:
- Meniere’s disease
- Head or neck tumors
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ)
- A reaction to medication
- High blood pressure
- Head or neck trauma
- Poor circulation
- Turbulent blood flow
Tinnitus can be triggered by any of these things. You may get the ringing despite the fact that you hear fine or possibly after an injury or accident. It’s important to get checked out by a doctor to determine why you’re experiencing tinnitus before searching for ways to deal with it.
What Can be Done About Tinnitus?
You can decide what to do about it when you determine why you have it. Giving the brain what it wants might be the only thing that works. If the lack of sound is the cause of your tinnitus, you need to generate some. A sound as simple as a fan running in the background may generate enough sound to turn off the ringing, it doesn’t have to be much.
Technology such as a white noise generator is made just for this purpose. Ocean waves or rain falling are soothing natural sounds that these devices simulate. You can hear the sound as you sleep if you buy one with pillow speakers.
Getting hearing aids is also a good solution. 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 generate phantom noise.
For the majority of people, the answer is a combination of tricks. For example, you might use a white noise generator at night and hearing aids during the day.
If the tinnitus is more severe and soft sounds don’t work there are also medications available. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can silence this noise.
Lifestyle Changes to Handle Your Tinnitus
Making a few lifestyle changes will help, too. Start by determining if there are triggers. Write down in a journal what’s happening when the tinnitus begins. Be specific:
- Are you smoking or drinking alcohol?
- What did you just eat?
- Is there a specific sound that is triggering it?
- Did you just have a soda or a cup of coffee?
- Did you just take medication even over-the-counter products like Tylenol?
The more specific your information, the faster you’ll see the patterns that might be triggering the ringing. Stress can also be responsible, so look for ways to relax such as exercise, meditation or even biofeedback.
An Ounce of Prevention
Take the correct steps to prevent tinnitus from the start. Start by doing everything you can 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
Eat right, exercise, and if you have high blood pressure, take your medication. To rule out treatable problems which increase your risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional.