Woman suffering from ringing in her ears.

Whether or not it’s only with you from time to time or all of the time, the ringing of tinnitus in your ears is annoying. There may be a more suitable word than annoying. Makes-you-want-to-bash-your-head-against-the-desk infuriating and downright frustrating may be better. Regardless of the description, that sound that you can’t turn off is a big problem in your life. So what can be done? Is even possible to stop that ringing in your ears?

Understand What Tinnitus Is And Why You Have it

Start by finding out more about the condition that is causing 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 itself is not a condition but a symptom of something else. That something else is loss of hearing for many people. Hearing decline regularly comes with tinnitus as a side effect. It’s not really evident why tinnitus occurs when there is a change in a person’s hearing. The current theory is the brain produces the noise to fill a void.

Each day you come across thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of sounds. Some noticeable examples are car horns, the radio, and people talking. The sound of air blowing through a vent or the spinning blades of a ceiling fan are not so 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. If half of those sounds are switched off, what happens then? The portion of your brain in control of hearing gets confused. Your brain is aware that the sound should be there so it’s possible that it generates the sounds associated with tinnitus to compensate.

Tinnitus has other possible causes as well. It can be connected to severe health problems like:

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

Any of these can cause tinnitus. Despite the fact that you can hear fine, after an injury or accident, you may still experience this ringing. Before you look for other methods of dealing with it, you need to see a doctor for a hearing exam.

Can Anything be Done About Tinnitus?

When you find out why you have it, you can figure out what to do about it. Sometimes, the only thing that helps is to give the brain what it wants. You need to make 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 could generate enough sound to turn off that ringing.

Technology such as a white noise generator is designed just for this purpose. Ocean waves or rain falling are relaxing natural sounds which these devices simulate. Some have pillow speakers, so you hear the sound when you sleep.

Hearing aids also do the trick. The sounds the brain is listening for can be turned up using quality hearing aids. Because your hearing is normalized, phantom sounds are no longer produced by the brain.

For many people, the solution is a combination of tricks. For example, you might 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 silence this noise.

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Your Tinnitus

It can also be helpful if you make a few lifestyle changes. Figuring out if there are triggers is a good place to start. When the tinnitus starts, note what’s going on and write it down in a log. Be specific:

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

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

An Ounce of Prevention

The best way to get rid of tinnitus is to protect against it in the first place. Start by doing everything possible to protect your hearing like:

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

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