There are few conditions that are more complex to understand for those who don’t have tinnitus. That’s because unless you’re afflicted with tinnitus, you won’t see, feel or hear the symptoms in the same way you might other conditions.
But for the almost 50 million Americans who experience some form of tinnitus, the condition is very real and can be very challenging to manage. Ringing in the ears is the best description of tinnitus, but according to the American Tinnitus Association, it can present sufferers with buzzing, hissing, whistling, swooshing and clicking. These sounds aren’t perceptible by others and that could be the most frustrating part of tinnitus, which can lead to confusion, disorientation, depression and delayed diagnosis.
While that 50 million number is huge, it’s even more staggering when put in the context that it means about 15 percent of the general public struggles with tinnitus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that around 20 million of those people have what’s classified as burdensome chronic tinnitus, while another two million suffer from symptoms that are extreme and debilitating.
There’s a common connection between loss of hearing and tinnitus, which is why people often turn to hearing aids to enhance their hearing and to drown out the ringing. While a hearing aid has proven to be an effective method of reducing the symptoms connected with tinnitus, there are personal actions you can take to minimize the ringing.
Here are 10 things to stay away from if you have tinnitus:
- Loud sounds; This one probably seems obvious, but it bears reiterating that loud noises can worsen the sounds you’re already hearing internally. If a situation arises where you will be subjected to loud noises, be cautious. This can include construction sites, concerts, and loud restaurants. Think about shielding your ears with earplugs if you can’t steer clear of the noise. People who have loud jobs are particularly benefited by ear plugs.
- Unsafe blood pressure levels; Keeping track of your blood pressure is an important preventive strategy that can help keep you safe from many illnesses, but it also just might keep your tinnitus symptoms in check. You should be careful about consistently checking your blood pressure because both high and low blood pressure can worsen tinnitus.
- Caffeine; Here’s yet another influencer of blood pressure that can cause a rise in levels. You might also find that too much caffeine alters your sleeping habits.
- Particular medicines; Over-the-counter medicines like aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be quite effective at soothing pain, but they may actually increase your tinnitus symptoms. Tinnitus can also be impacted by other medication such as prescription antibiotics or cancer drugs. However, you should always consult with your physician about any issues you’re having before stopping a prescribed medication.
- Jaw issues; If you’re having jaw pain, you should already be visiting a doctor, but particularly if you also have tinnitus. Minimizing jaw pain may have some impact on your tinnitus since the jaw and ears share nerves and ligaments.
- Smoking; Smoking is another habit that can harm your blood pressure. Also, it can make the tinnitus worse by narrowing the blood vessels to the ears.
- Alcohol; Your cholesterol and heart health can be positively affected by drinking a small amount of wine daily, or so the old adage goes. But when it comes to alcohol and tinnitus, you can have too much of a good thing. Drinking too much alcohol raises your blood pressure, which makes the ringing louder for many people.
- Infections; There’s a long-running commentary about the need to find a cure for the common cold, particularly because a lingering cold can quickly change into a sinus infection. Be sure you’re controlling your exposure to sinus and ear infections because they have can worsen tinnitus.
- Poor sleeping habits; Mom wasn’t kidding when she said you needed those eight hours each night. Sleep is another critical aspect of healthy living that offers a wide variety of benefits, including helping to avoid tinnitus triggers.
- Excess earwax; There’s no doubting that earwax serves a beneficial role in the in the overall health of your ears. As a matter of fact, the crud we all hate actually traps dirt and protects your ears. That said, too much accumulation can make tinnitus worse. Your doctor may be able to help you reduce some of the buildup and give you prevention advice to make sure it doesn’t accumulate to a dangerous level again.
You can take back your life and manage your tinnitus symptoms even though there is no known cure. Give these 10 recommendations a try, and you might be surprised with the improvements in your symptoms and your general health. If these don’t help, make an appointment with a hearing care professional.