Ringing, buzzing, humming in your ear(s) can greatly impact your entire life, and although there is no known cause or cure for tinnitus there are a number of ways to help minimize its symptoms.
About one in every twenty-two Americans have some form of tinnitus. For many, the occurrence usually lasts a few seconds or up to a few minutes at a time. However, about 12 million people experience tinnitus that is constant or recurs and interferes with their daily life. Tinnitus may result in a loss of sleep, difficulty with concentration or reading, and can create negative emotional reactions such as despair, frustration, and depression.
At Salem Audiology our goal is establishing solutions tailored around each individual’s needs. We’re going to share some of our favorite ways to manage your tinnitus and live a better life.
Ways to manage your tinnitus
Staying active and eating healthy is a great way to improve the perceived intensity of your tinnitus. Exercising regularly helps reduce stress and anxiety, which both contribute to tinnitus symptoms. Try to exercise at least two to three times a week, and if you’re just beginning consider starting out with one or two days.
You’ll also want to make sure you avoid exercises that involve jarring movements to your head and neck and a lot of jumping. High-impact aerobics, running, basketball, football, soccer, and volleyball should be done in moderation, if at all.
Modified or Customized Sound Machines
Standard white noise or background sound generators can help create temporary relife to your tinnitus but have not shown long-lasting effects, unlike specific sound machines designed to mask your tinnitus. These are not your typical off the shelf background or white noise devices. They are specifically customized to your tinnitus, and you may experience benefits long after the device is turned off, and over time, you may experience long-term improvement in the perceived loudness of your tinnitus.
Treating Obstructions and Dysfunctions
Most cases of tinnitus are caused by hearing loss, as stated by the American Tinnitus Association. However, irritations to the auditory system can also cause tinnitus symptoms. It can sometimes be a symptom of a problem such as Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ). If you think this may be the cause of your tinnitus, speak with your dentist to discuss options available to you.
Excess earwax creating blockages can be a direct cause of tinnitus. Many times removing these wax blockages can make mild cases of tinnitus disappear. Foreign objects lodged against the eardrum can also cause tinnitus. An Audiologist or ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist can perform an exam to check for obstructions in the ear canal.
The most basic way hearing aids can help you if you experience tinnitus is by subtly amplifying background noise to help reduce the awareness of tinnitus. This means your brain can focus on the sounds you want to hear instead of the sound of your tinnitus.
Hearing aids can also help keep tinnitus from interfering with your ability to participate in conversations and other social situations by gently amplifying sounds that are directed right at you. This will help you focus on the sound of someone’s voice, the television, or whatever else you’re trying to listen to instead of your tinnitus symptoms.
Many of today’s hearing aids include a technological feature meant to directly work with a person’s tinnitus. They play white noise or artificial sounds directly into your ear to provide a sound meant to decrease the signal-to-noise ratio of the bothersome tinnitus sound. This form of tinnitus therapy helps retrain your brain to “turn down” the volume of your tinnitus symptoms during everyday life. Hearing aids that connect to smartphones can also play sounds to encourage a sound-enriched environment through special smartphone apps.
Avoid anything that can make your tinnitus worse, such as smoking, alcohol and loud noise. If you are a construction worker, an airport worker, a hunter, or if you are regularly exposed to loud noise at home or at work, wear earplugs or special earmuffs to protect your hearing and keep your tinnitus from getting worse.
Tinnitus has dozens of possible causes and it affects every individual differently, so it’s important to understand that while there is no cure, there are several ways to manage the symptoms. Successful treatment depends on the individual and the degree of tinnitus you have. However, hearing aids with special programs designed to treat tinnitus have helped improve the quality of life for many tinnitus sufferers.
Tinnitus therapy works, and we urge you to talk to a professional audiologist and put an end to the ringing in your ears.
The first step is to schedule an appointment to have your tinnitus evaluated. There may be other medical issues behind the tinnitus, and it is important to rule out anything else that may affect your overall health.