Woman suffering from ringing in her ears.

The ringing of tinnitus is annoying whether you only hear it periodically or all of the time. Annoying may not be the right word. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk aggravating and downright frustrating might be better. No matter what the description, that noise that you can’t turn off is a serious issue in your life. So what can be done? Is even possible to prevent that ringing in your ears?

What is Tinnitus And Why do You Have 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 itself is not a condition but a sign of something else. Loss of hearing is often the leading cause of tinnitus. Hearing loss often comes along with tinnitus as a side effect. Why tinnitus occurs when there is a change in a person’s hearing is still unclear. Presently the theory is that the brain is filling the void by generating noise.

Every single day you come across thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of sounds. There are the noticeable sounds like a motor running or someone shouting, and then there are sounds you don’t notice. How about the turning of the blades on the ceiling fan or the sound of air blowing into a vent. You don’t really 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? It becomes bewildering for the part of your brain that hears sound. It may produce the phantom tinnitus noises to compensate because it knows sound should be there.

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

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

Tinnitus can be triggered by any of these things. You may experience the ringing even though you hear fine or after an injury or accident. Before you look for other methods of dealing with it, you need to see a doctor for a hearing exam.

What to do About Tinnitus

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

A white noise generator is a kind of technology that is designed specifically for this purpose. They simulate a natural sound that is relaxing such as the ocean waves or falling rain. You can hear the sound when you sleep if you buy one with pillow speakers.

Hearing aids also work. The sounds the brain is looking for can be turned up using quality hearing aids. Hearing aids normalize your hearing enough that the brain no longer needs to generate phantom noise.

For the majority of people, the answer 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 the tinnitus is severe and soft sounds don’t work there are also medications available. Certain antidepressants can quiet this noise, for example, Xanax.

Lifestyle Changes to Handle Your Tinnitus

Making a few lifestyle modifications can help, as well. Determining if there are triggers is a good place to begin. Keep a record and make a note of what’s happening when the tinnitus starts. Be specific:

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

You will begin to see the patterns that trigger the ringing if you record the information very specifically. Stress can also be the cause, so look for ways to relax like exercise, meditation or even biofeedback.

An Ounce of Prevention

The best way to get rid of tinnitus is to protect against it from the beginning. Protect your hearing as much as possible by:

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

That means eat healthily, get plenty of exercise and take high blood pressure medication if it’s prescribed. Lastly, schedule a hearing exam to rule out treatable issues which increase your risk of hearing loss and the tinnitus that comes with it.