You’re not able to focus on table conversation because of the ringing in your ears. You can’t sleep. Even listening to the radio is difficult. Whether you’re experiencing ringing in your ears or you tinnitus takes another form, it’s annoying. It can interfere with your life and be agonizing to live with. On top of that, your friends and family don’t understand how you can have a constant noise in your ear that “isn’t there”. Does it make you feel isolated?
You’re not alone. The Hearing Health Foundation estimates that around 25 million Americans are living with tinnitus, which can range from mild or occasional to persistent and painful.
Need relief from your tinnitus? Start by identifying the root cause.
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus isn’t a medical condition. It’s your body’s response to something else. That something could be:
- Noise exposure
- High blood pressure
- Uncontrolled stress
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Hormonal changes
- Or another underlying condition
In addition to having many causes, people experience it in many ways:
- Dial tone
- TV static
Regardless of what it sounds like, it can wreak havoc on your life. Let’s look at how you can manage it.
1. Identify & Treat the Underlying Condition
When possible, work with a hearing professional to identify the underlying cause. Some causes are easier to address than others. Managing your blood pressure or blood sugar, for example, can reduce the volume of tinnitus. Taking care of your overall health is therefore a good first step.
This may not completely stop the tinnitus. But it can help you get it to a place where you can manage it with the tips in this article.
2. Stop Smoking
Smokers are 70% more likely to develop tinnitus. It may be the cause. Or it may be making it worse. Smoking impacts blood flow to the inner ear. It can cause nerve sensitivity. Both would explain the connection. It’s just one more reason to quit.
3. Create a Soothing Ambience
Our senses work together creating how we experience the world. Make your home, or at the very least a single room, your sanctuary. Play soothing music. Add inspirational visuals. Use aromatherapy. If you feel stressed or the tinnitus is getting worse, go to your sanctuary. Take some deep, relaxing breaths. Let the stress melt away.
Stress and anxiety have been shown to make tinnitus symptoms worse and vice versa. Stress and tinnitus can be a vicious cycle.
4. Use White Noise
This one may seem like a cheat. But if you need quick relief, then sometimes the simplest fixes are the best even though very temporary. Sleep with a fan in the room. Get a sound machine. Have something available when you travel. Don’t get stuck in a hotel room with “Me, Myself and My Tinnitus”.
5. Take More “Me Time”
Do you feel unproductive when you’re doing nothing? This is a common way of modern thinking that can do you harm. Our bodies and minds aren’t designed to always be doing. We need time to relax, reflect and recuperate.
Take 10 minutes or more each day to do absolutely nothing. Turn off all of your devices. If worries enter your mind, replace them with positive thoughts. It may be hard at first, but it gets easier.
Take time each week to do things you enjoy. These may be more active activities. But it’s important that you’re doing something you love.
6. Do Tinnitus-Fighting Activities
Certain activities can help bring your mind into the present moment. That’s away from regrets about yesterday or worries of the future. These activities also reduce your blood pressure which has been associated with tinnitus. Find an activity you like. Join a class and learn to do the exercises at home too.
Some common activities include:
- Systematically relaxing your muscles. Start at one side of your body and consciously relax each muscle.
- Guided meditation
A British Tinnitus Foundation study found that these kinds of mindfulness activities outperformed basic relaxation techniques. They gave people mental tools they can use to manage symptoms even when they’re not actively doing the activity.
7. Value Your Sleep Time
Sleep time is recovery time. It’s not an afterthought to a busy day. Your health is directly related to the quality of your sleep.
Research shows that 70% of sufferers have sleep problems attributed to tinnitus. Lack of sleep can make tinnitus worse in yet another vicious cycle. Take other steps to improve sleep to stop the cycle like:
- Going to bed when you get sleepy. If you don’t, your brain produces “wake up” hormones because it thinks you need to stay awake. These will stay in your system for hours.
- Meditating when you can’t sleep
- Avoiding electronics and caffeine too close to bedtime
Get Rid of the Ringing
Get your hearing tested and talk to a hearing specialist about more solutions. They can help you identify potential causes and address them. They have access to therapies, hearing aids that stop tinnitus symptoms, and other solutions.