Can you please put your phone on vibrate? I love your new windchimes! If you’ve said these things and gotten funny looks, it might be in your head. Literally, the ringing is in your head, or your ear more specifically. Ringing in your ears, whether constant or not, is called Tinnitus. And while tinnitus is most often experienced as a ringing sound, it can also include buzzing, whistling or any other sounds that are not caused by an external source. If you suspect you may have this condition, you need to make your Audiologist aware. She will will guide you in the next step which will likely include figuring out what is causing your tinnitus, some commonly used home remedies, and medical treatments that are available.
Tinnitus has many possible causes. Yours might be caused by more than one so it helps to understand them all. If the ringing has occurred gradually it stands to reason that the culprit is exposure to loud noises. Over time, loud noises cause both tinnitus as well as hearing impairment. These can occur in one or both ears and there is no known cure, only coping mechanisms. Other possible causes are certain medications, high blood pressure, heart related conditions and diabetes. If you and your doctor decide together that your tinnitus is caused by one of these, it can be possible through medical care to get the ringing to stop. A change in medication and lifestyle modifications to better control the symptoms of high blood pressure may be all you need to end your tinnitus for good. Ask your doctor or Audiologist how to best improve living conditions to reduce the severity of your tinnitus.
Home remedies have come a long way since your grandma first started rubbing butter on your burns. Modern day home remedies can actually be quite effective in managing tinnitus and can help increase your quality of life. Listening to music or using a white noise machine in your home or office may be the key for you to drown out the ringing sound. Using a homemade solution to safely clean your ears (not a cotton tipped swab!) can remove excess wax buildup that can make tinnitus worse. Physical activity will improve blood flow to the ears to help alleviate symptoms and relaxation techniques such as yoga can also help relieve the ringing as well as help you sleep. Tinnitus is often far worse when you’re exhausted so don’t skimp on the shut eye. Be sure to stay away from, or at least severely limit, your exposure to loud noise to keep tinnitus from becoming worse. Investing in a well fitting set of earplugs or headphones is also advised. If home remedies are not enough or your symptoms seem to be getting worse you and your doctor may need to try medically prescribed treatment options.
For those experiencing tinnitus without any hearing loss, something called Acoustic Therapy may help mask the irritating buzzing you are perceiving. This is essentially a sound generator housed in a hearing aid case that produces a very soft and pleasant sound which can help mask the sounds of your tinnitus.
Given that tinnitus and hearing loss usually go hand in hand, your doctor will likely direct you to an Audiologist. Here you will receive a formal hearing test and discuss how a hearing device in one or both ears may solve both the tinnitus and hearing loss together. Tinnitus and hearing difficulties often occur together and most commonly in the 65 or better age category. Amplifying speech and other environmental sounds can help to stimulate the Auditory nerve and your brain and possibly “trick” you into thinking the ringing has stopped.
The combination of home remedies and medically prescribed treatment options can dramatically reduce the frustrating ringing in your ears. If you or a loved one are experiencing tinnitus, we invite you to schedule a hearing test at our Central Phoenix location. Our friendly and experienced audiologist Dr. Dana Day is dedicated to helping Phoenicians with all of their hearing and balance problems, including tinnitus.