Hearing Care Specialists - Hopkins, Glencoe, and Watertown, MN

Woman suffering from ringing in her ears.

The ringing of tinnitus will be annoying whether you just hear it from time to time or all of the time. Perhaps annoying isn’t the best word. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk irritating and downright frustrating may fit better. Regardless of the description, that noise that you can’t get rid of is a serious issue in your life. Can anything be done? How can you get rid of that ringing in your ears?

Understand Why You Have Tinnitus And Exactly What it is

Begin by learning more about the condition that is responsible for the clicking, ringing, buzzing, or roaring you hear. It’s estimated as much as 10 percent of the U.S. population experiences tinnitus, which is the medical name for that ringing. But why?

Tinnitus per se is not a condition but a sign of something else. Hearing loss is often the main cause of tinnitus. Hearing loss often comes with tinnitus as a side effect. When a person’s hearing changes, it is still unclear why tinnitus occurs. At this time the theory is that the brain is filling the void by generating noise.

Each and every day you experience thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of sounds. There are the noticeable sounds like a motor running or someone yelling, and then there are noises you don’t notice. 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.

The point is, hearing these sounds is “normal” for your brain. Now, what happens if you turn half of those sounds off? It becomes bewildering for the portion of your brain that hears sound. It might be possible that the phantom sounds associated with tinnitus are the brains way of producing sound for it to interpret because it knows it should be there.

There are also other possible causes of tinnitus, however. Severe health problems can also be the cause, like:

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

Tinnitus can be triggered by any of these things. After an injury or accident, even though you can hear fine, you could experience this ringing. Before you go looking for other methods of dealing with it, you should see a doctor to have a hearing exam.

What to do About Tinnitus

You need to understand why you have it before you can begin to determine what to do about it. Giving the brain what it wants may be the only thing that helps. If tinnitus is caused by the lack of sound, create some. It doesn’t need to be much, something as simple as a fan running in the background might generate enough noise to switch off the ringing.

Technology such as a white noise generator is designed just for this purpose. They imitate a natural sound that is calming such as the ocean waves or rain falling. You can hear the sound as you sleep if you get one with pillow speakers.

Another thing that also works well is hearing aids. You can turn up the sounds that your brain is looking for, like the AC running, with quality hearing aids. The brain has no further need to generate phantom noises because hearing aids normalize your hearing.

For many 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 soft sounds aren’t helping or if the tinnitus is severe, there are medications that might help. Certain antidepressants can silence this noise, for example, Xanax.

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Your Tinnitus

It will also help if you make a few lifestyle modifications. Start by determining what the triggers are. Write down in a journal what’s taking place when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:

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

You will start to notice the patterns which trigger the ringing if you record the information very specifically. You should find ways to relax like biofeedback, exercise, and meditation because stress can also be the cause.

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:

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

If you have high blood pressure, take your medication. Eat right and exercise also. To eliminate treatable problems which increase your risk of hearing loss and tinnitus, schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional.

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