If you have tinnitus, then you can understand how frustrating and worrisome it is for the approximately 15 million Americans who also suffer from it.
Tinnitus is a condition where you can hear sounds that aren’t really there. It might be a buzzing, chirping, humming, ringing, or hissing sound that never seems to go away. It can be intermittent but often it is with you non-stop.
Restless nights are common, and tinnitus can also increase your anxiety and stress levels, which only seems to make the tinnitus worse.
However, it is worth noting that 50% of tinnitus suffers do find that their tinnitus fades over time. In this blog, we’ll look at the common causes of tinnitus and explore some ways you can ease its symptoms and gain back control of your life.
Type of Tinnitus
There are two types of tinnitus – subjective and objective.
Subjective tinnitus means that only the person with tinnitus can hear it. It is usually caused by problems within the outer, middle, or inner ear. Sometimes sufferers may have an issue with their hearing nerves or the brain is unable to understand the nerve signals as sound.
Common causes can include: compacted earwax, stress/anxiety, drug use, head trauma, and neurological illnesses.
Objective tinnitus is a much rarer condition. In this case, both the patient with tinnitus and their doctor can hear the tinnitus sounds.
Causes can include: blood vessel problems, muscle contractions, and issues with the small bones that are located within the middle ear.
It is important to note that tinnitus is not a condition in itself but rather a side effect of another illness or problem. Sometimes tinnitus sufferers will also experience hearing loss, vertigo, and ear pressure.
Although there is no cure for tinnitus, there are several ways to reduce the symptoms and find relief.
Cutting back on your caffeine intake, as well as cigarettes, can make a difference. Caffeine and nicotine are both nerve stimulants and can increase your anxiety levels. This can lead to your tinnitus becoming louder and more persistent.
You may want to ask your doctor about any medications you are currently taking. Sometimes, tinnitus can be a side effect, and just by changing your medication, the tinnitus will disappear.
Additionally, some sufferers have tried medication to ease their tinnitus symptoms. Results may vary, but this is definitely an option to explore.
Other treatment options focus on distracting yourself from the tinnitus. It might seem impossible, but it can be done. This method depends on creating other sounds to focus on or complete relaxation.
Often simply running a fan in the background or playing the radio is all the distraction one needs. Or you could try a sound source generator. There are many apps available to download – they play random nature or environmental sounds. By focusing on them, your tinnitus will fade into the background.
Some people like to wear tinnitus maskers. These are small technical devices that fit into a hearing aid case and they are worn like a hearing aid. They play various sounds that are different to your tinnitus sounds.
With biofeedback training, you learn how to deeply relax and control different body parts. This can be helpful to know in stressful situations where your tinnitus might increase.
What should I do next?
If you are concerned about your likelihood of getting tinnitus, or you have tinnitus and are struggling with it, we are here to help you.
All About Hearing is Midland, Texas’s hearing care expert. We are committed to caring for your hearing and overall wellbeing, ensuring that you get the most out of life. To begin your journey to better hearing, phone us today at 432-689-2220.
Dr. Sally earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1991 and a Master of Arts degree in 1994 at the University of Texas at Austin. She earned her Doctor of Audiology degree in 2000 from the University of Florida. She became the first Doctor of Audiology in Midland and was among the first in the state when the requirements to practice Audiology changed from a Master’s Degree to a Doctorate. In 2011 she was recognized as Business Woman of the Year from the Midland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.