Evanston Audiology - Evanston, IL

Woman suffering from ringing in her ears.

Regardless of whether you hear it from time to time or it’s with you all of the time, the ringing of tinnitus is annoying. There might be a more appropriate word than annoying. How about frustrating or makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk infuriating? That noise that you can’t turn off is a problem however you choose to describe it. What can you do, though? Is even possible to prevent 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 ringing, clicking, buzzing, or roaring you hear. It’s estimated as much as 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from tinnitus, which is the medical term for that ringing. But why?

Tinnitus itself is not a condition but a symptom of something else. Hearing loss is often the leading cause of tinnitus. Tinnitus is a typical side effect of hearing decline. It’s not really clear why tinnitus appears 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, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of sounds are encountered each day. There are the obvious sounds like a motor running or someone shouting, and then there are noises you don’t even notice. The sound of air blowing through a vent or the spinning blades of a ceiling fan are less noticeable. You don’t normally hear these sounds, but that’s only because your brain decides you don’t need to.

It’s “normal” for your brain to hear these sounds, is the point. So what happens if you shut half of those sounds off? The portion of your brain in charge of hearing gets confounded. It might create the phantom tinnitus noises to fill in the blanks because it realizes sound should be there.

Hearing loss isn’t the only possible cause of tinnitus, however. Severe health problems can also be the cause, like:

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

Any of these things can cause tinnitus. You may experience the ringing despite the fact that you hear fine or possibly after an injury or accident. Before you go looking for other ways to get rid of it, you should schedule an appointment with a doctor to have a hearing exam.

What to do About Tinnitus

You can figure out what to do about it after you find out why you have it. Giving the brain what it wants might be the only thing that works. You have to create some sound if your tinnitus is caused by lack of it. It doesn’t need to be very much, something as basic as a fan running in the background may generate enough sound to switch off that ringing.

Technology such as a white noise generator is made just for this purpose. They simulate soothing natural sounds like rain falling or ocean waves. You can hear the sound as you sleep if you buy one with pillow speakers.

Another thing that also works is hearing aids. The sounds the brain is looking for can be turned up using quality hearing aids. Because your hearing is normalized, phantom sounds are no longer generated by the brain.

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

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

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Your Tinnitus

Making a few lifestyle changes can help, as well. Identifying if there are triggers is a good place to begin. Write down in a journal what’s taking place when the tinnitus begins. Be specific:

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

The more specific your information, the faster you’ll notice the patterns that could be triggering the ringing. Stress can also be responsible, so try to find ways to relax including exercise, meditation or even biofeedback.

An Ounce of Prevention

Take the appropriate steps to prevent tinnitus from the start. Protect your hearing as much as you can by:

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

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

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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