Have you ever experienced what could be described as a ringing or buzz in the ears? It may have gone away after a while, but for many it can be persistent. There is actually a name for this condition – Tinnitus—and it affects an estimated 10 percent, or about 25 million people in the US today.
Why do my ears ring?
Tinnitus is self-identified by patents as many sounds such as a hum, whoosh, buzz, or ring. It is a sensation, perceived only by the patient and has no external source. For many symptoms come and go but for many it can create stress, cause sleep issues and cause loss of focus during the day.
Causes of tinnitus
Nearly 90% of all people diagnosed with tinnitus also have hearing, leading specialists to suspect the two conditions are closely related. For instance, many causes of hearing loss, most notably exposure to loud sounds can leave an individual with a resounding ringing in its aftermath. In the case of hearing loss, damage most often occurs when tiny hair-like cells of the inner ear become damaged. These hair-like cells send sound collected in the inner ear to the auditory cortex of the brain where sound is processed and comprehended. It is believed that this same damage to the cells in the inner ears, can cause them to send a sort of feedback to the brain, which is suspected as the cause of the symptoms of tinnitus.
Factors which increase the likeliness of tinnitus
- Age: After decades of hearing, many start to report tinnitus more commonly post 60 years of age.
- Loud noise exposure: If you have ever been to a loud concert or close to a firework show and left with a ringing in the ears, this is surely the sign of hearing damage and tinnitus. While the buzz most likely went away it is attributed to issues with tinnitus and hearing loss later in life. Protect your hearing whenever you can predict you’ll be exposed to loud noise, in instances such as a loud work environment, hobbies, using power equipment or concerts.
- Unhealthy habits: Researchers have found high rates of tinnitus reported in smokers, those who drink excessively, drink high amounts of caffeinated beverages and have high sugar and fat diets.
- Common ailments: Many medical conditions affected blood flow such as, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, circulatory problems, diabetes and an underactive thyroid gland all increase the likeliness of tinnitus. This is because the hair cells of the inner ear rely on a healthy supply of blood to stay healthy. When blood flow is inadequate or interrupted damage is sustained to the ears increasing the risk of hearing loss and tinnitus.
How can I make my ears stop ringing?
Like hearing loss, there is no cure for tinnitus. However, there are also many treatments which can distract, and redirect focus away from the persistent condition.
- Masking: Many enjoy using other sounds to cover up the ringing of the ears. Many find success using a white noise machine or listening to music at night to help them sleep. There are masking features available on hearing aids which can cover the sound of tinnitus during the day.
- Relaxation and Redirection: For many the presence of tinnitus causes stress, and stress amplifies the focus on tinnitus. Many have found success reducing the stress of tinnitus with meditation, exercise, and yoga. For instance, meditation asks of the individual practicing to focus on only being. While difficult at first once a person can relax into meditation the buzz of tinnitus can simply fall away, at least for a little bit of time. Regular exercise similarly reduces stress which reduces the focus on tinnitus.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This is a method of counselling where a therapist can help an individual focus on their response to tinnitus and modify it to a less alarming state.
Hearing Aids can Help Alleviate Tinnitus
Many hearing aids offer masking features for tinnitus, but more than that, hearing aids can help relieve stress. It is incredibly stressful to live in a world where you struggle to hear what the people in your life are saying. Hearing aids can change that daily script, making it easier for you to hear and enjoy the life you love. This can make the symptoms of tinnitus less acute when you are busy, active, and enjoying your life. To find out if hearing aids are right for you, schedule an appointment for a hearing exam today!