Hearing Associates of Libertyville, IL

Woman suffering from ringing in her ears.

Whether or not you hear it sporadically or it’s with you all of the time, the ringing of tinnitus is annoying. Perhaps annoying isn’t the right word. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk irritating and downright frustrating might be better. That sound that you can’t get rid of is a problem no matter how you decide to describe it. What can you do, though? How can you prevent that ringing in your ears?

Why do You Have Tinnitus And What Exactly Causes it?

Begin by finding out 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 term for that ringing. But why?

Tinnitus is a symptom of something else, not a condition itself. For many people, that something else is loss of hearing. Tinnitus is a typical side effect of hearing decline. Why tinnitus happens when there is a change in a person’s hearing is still not well understood. The latest theory is the brain generates the noise to fill a void.

Every single day you encounter thousands, possibly even hundreds of thousands of sounds. There is talking, music, car horns, and the TV, as an example, but those are just the obvious noises. The sound of air coming through a vent or the rotating blades of a ceiling fan are less obvious. These sorts of sound are not generally heard because the brain decides you don’t need to hear them.

It’s “normal” for your brain to hear these sounds, is the point. Shut half those sounds off and how would the brain respond? It becomes bewildering for the portion of your brain that hears sound. It may generate the phantom tinnitus sounds to fill in the blanks because it realizes sound should be there.

Tinnitus has other possible causes also. Severe health problems can also be the cause, such as:

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

Tinnitus can be triggered by any of these. After an injury or accident, even though you can hear fine, you could experience this ringing. It’s important to get get a hearing exam to determine why you’re experiencing tinnitus before searching for ways to deal with it.

What Can be Done About Tinnitus?

You can figure out what to do about it after you determine why you have it. In some cases, the only thing that works is to give the brain what it wants. You need to produce some sound if your tinnitus is caused by lack of it. The ringing might be able to be shut off by something as basic as a fan running in the background.

Technology such as a white noise generator is made just for this purpose. They simulate soothing natural sounds like rain falling or ocean waves. Some have pillow speakers, so you hear the sound as you sleep.

Another thing which also works well is hearing aids. With quality hearing aids, you are turning up the volume of the sounds the brain is listening for like the AC running. Because your hearing is normalized, phantom sounds are no longer created by the brain.

A combination of tricks is most effective for the majority of people. For instance, you might use a white noise generator at night and hearing aids during the day.

If the tinnitus is more severe and soft sounds won’t work there are also medications available. 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

Making a few lifestyle modifications will help, too. Start by determining if there are triggers. When the tinnitus starts, note what’s going on and write it down in a journal. Be specific:

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

Be very specific when you record the information and pretty soon you will see the patterns that trigger the ringing. You should find ways to relax such as biofeedback, exercise, and meditation because stress can also be the cause.

An Ounce of Prevention

The ideal way to get rid of tinnitus is to protect against it from the beginning. Begin 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
  • Turning down the volume on everything
  • Using ear protection when you’re going to be around loud noises

If you have high blood pressure, take your medication. Eat right and exercise also. Lastly, 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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