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. There might be a more appropriate word than annoying. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk aggravating and downright frustrating may be better. No matter how you choose to describe that sound that you can’t turn off, it’s an issue. What can you do, though? Can that ringing really be prevented?

Know Why You Have Tinnitus And Exactly What it is

Begin by finding out more about the condition that is causing the ringing, clicking, buzzing, 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 itself is not a condition but a sign of something else. For many, that something else is loss of hearing. Tinnitus is a common side effect of hearing decline. It’s not really clear why tinnitus occurs when there is a change in a person’s hearing. That the brain is generating the sound to fill the void is the current theory.

Thousands, possibly even hundreds of thousands of sounds are encountered each day. Some obvious examples are car horns, the radio, and people talking. 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 normally 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. Now, what happens if you shut half of those sounds off? Confusion occurs in the portion of the brain that hears sound. It might be possible that the phantom sounds linked with tinnitus are the brain’s way of generating sound for it to interpret because it recognizes it 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
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Head or neck trauma
  • A reaction to medication
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the cranial nerve
  • Poor circulation
  • High blood pressure
  • Head or neck tumors

Any of these things can trigger tinnitus. After an injury or accident, even though you can hear fine, you may experience this ringing. Before you go looking for other methods of dealing with it, you need to see a doctor to have a hearing exam.

What to do About Tinnitus

You need to find out why you have it before you can start to figure out what to do about it. In some cases, the only thing that works is to give the brain what it wants. If the lack of sound is the cause of your tinnitus, you need to create some. It doesn’t have to be much, something as basic as a fan running in the background might generate enough noise to turn off the ringing.

A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is designed for this purpose. They imitate a natural sound that is soothing like the ocean waves or rain falling. Some have pillow speakers, so you hear the sound when you sleep.

Hearing aids will also help. 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 works best for most people. You could use hearing aids during the day and use a white noise machine at night, for instance.

If soft sounds aren’t helping or if the tinnitus is severe, there are medications that might help. Medications such as Xanax and possibly other antidepressants can silence this noise.

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

It can also be helpful if you make a few lifestyle changes. Identifying if there are triggers is a good place to begin. Keep a diary and make a note of what’s going on when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:

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

Be very specific when you record the information and pretty soon you will see the patterns that trigger the ringing. Stress can also be responsible, so try to find ways to relax like exercise, meditation or even biofeedback.

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:

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

That means you have to eat healthily, get lots of exercise and take high blood pressure medication if it’s prescribed. To rule out treatable problems which increase your risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional.

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