After a long day, do you ever hear a ringing in your ears that seems to come from your own head? This is called tinnitus and can be extremely frustrating when it becomes excessively loud and consistent. While there is no consensus on what causes tinnitus, many believe that it is caused by inner ear damage, when the tiny hairs of the inner ear send feedback to the brain, causing the symptoms. The issue is that when people cannot escape the constant buzz of tinnitus it causes stress and stress makes tinnitus that much more severe.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that “nearly 15% of the general public — over 50 million Americans — experience some form of tinnitus. Roughly 20 million people struggle with burdensome chronic tinnitus, while 2 million have extreme and debilitating cases.” While there is no absolute cure to stop tinnitus, the good news there are several methods that can help lessen the symptoms. Because everyone’s experience with tinnitus is slightly unique, different treatment options work for different people. Here are just a few.
Tinnitus is the most noticeable in silence. This is when the buzz of tinnitus is the most excruciating for many. Using a white noise machine in your bedroom or quiet work environment can make focusing or falling asleep a much more pleasant experience. There are also hearing aids available that actually can detect the tone of your tinnitus and use a masking hiss to cancel the frequency.
There are many health risks to smoking that are more deadly than tinnitus but if deterring the hum of tinnitus is what it takes to finally stop smoking, then by all means! Smoking contracts blood vessels and slows the flow of blood. The tiny hair cells of the inner ear rely on a constant oxygen-rich blood supply to remain healthy. Research shows that smokers are 70% more likely to acquire hearing loss and associated tinnitus, than non-smokers.
Caffeine and Alcoholic Beverages
Alcohol and caffeine can increase your blood pressure which can, in turn, increase the effects of tinnitus. Both substances are also known to interrupt healthy sleeping patterns, causing many to lie awake with the sound of tinnitus inescapably in the background.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
The fact that tinnitus is in your head means that how you regard the symptoms can make them less or more severe. When you become stressed at the presence of tinnitus the symptoms can increase. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a practice in which a therapist talks a patient through their reaction to tinnitus, to lessen its severity.
Meditation and Yoga
When you are calm and collected the symptoms of tinnitus will be less aggravated. Meditation is a successful practice for people with tinnitus because it challenges people to focus on being. This is much easier to be said than done, but with practice, people can learn to focus on being exactly where they are, which in turn allows the sound of tinnitus to fade into the background. Yoga is a similar activity that incorporates focusing on being along with being present and active in your body. These practices are effective ways of lowering stress levels which is one of the most dangerous factors in aggravating tinnitus.
Getting your heart rate up for at least 20 minutes daily can lower stress levels, improve mood and help you sleep better at the end of the day. It is understood that all of these factors can help decrease debilitating tinnitus, but a study from the University of Illinois collected data to prove this.
Protect Your Hearing
After a very loud exposure to noise, your tinnitus will be very noticeable. While it is not always possible to know when your ears will be subject to loud noise, there are many instances where you can plan to protect your hearing. For instance, if you find yourself visiting a loud concert, firework show, or noisy workplace it is important to protect your ears to avoid hearing loss and tinnitus in the future.
If you suspect that you are suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus, it’s a good idea to have your hearing tested as soon as possible. The sooner you treat your hearing loss the sooner you can find relief from the frustrating effects of tinnitus. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!