Researchers estimate that 32 percent of Americans experience a constant ringing, buzzing or whooshing sound in their ears. This condition is called tinnitus, and it can wreak havoc. People who hear these sounds have trouble sleeping and concentrating, and they may also have associated hearing loss. Because it is usually related to some other condition, there is no real cure for the tinnitus itself, but there are steps you can take to quiet the noise. If you aren’t successful with these tips at home, a hearing specialist may be able to help.
Things to Avoid
The first step in dealing with that constant ringing in your ears is to avoid the things that have been shown to cause it or make it worse. One of the most common factors that aggravates tinnitus is loud noises. Avoid using headphones, and if you are exposed to noise at work or at home, get some high quality earplugs to minimize the damage.
You should also talk to your doctor about your medications, as certain antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and high doses of aspirin can make the ear ringing worse. Never stop taking your medications without first speaking to your health care professional.
Other common causes of tinnitus include:
- issues with the jaw
- excessive earwax
- high blood pressure
- other medical problems
Clean Your Ears
Earwax that is pushed down near your eardrums can cause tinnitus. Use hydrogen peroxide or over-the-counter drops to clean your ears. Never use cotton swabs, tissues or other items to try to clean your ears, as this often results in pushing the wax further in and making the problem worse.
If you believe you have excessive earwax that you cannot clean yourself, see a hearing professional. They have special instruments to clean your ears safely.
Use Masking Devices
You can reduce the effects of the constant noise in your head by distracting your ears and your brain. You don’t even have to buy special equipment, as your radio, TV or laptop can act as masking devices. If you prefer, there are special devices you can purchase to help.
Choose a sound that makes you happy, such as waves crashing or just general sounds of nature. Play that sound when your tinnitus is particularly bad or you are trying to sleep. The sound of a fan running might even do the trick. When you focus on that pleasant sound you may be able block out the ringing or buzzing noises in your ears.
See a Professional for Persistent Ringing in the Ears
Hearing health professionals and psychotherapists can both help alleviate your tinnitus symptoms. Don’t make the mistake of being too embarrassed to go to a doctor for something that doesn’t seem like a “real” problem. Constant ear ringing has real consequences, and it is often associated with hearing loss.
Your hearing specialist can give you a pass/fail hearing screening, followed by a full evaluation if necessary. Depending on your level of hearing loss, your doctor may recommend hearing aids. These devices not only help you hear better, they often alleviate, mask or eliminate the constant ringing.
It may seem strange to see a mental health professional about your tinnitus, but research has consistently shown that therapy can help. Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches people to change their negative thoughts into more positive ones. Since stress is one of the causes of tinnitus, finding ways to control your emotions can help alleviate your symptoms.
If you experience a constant ringing, whooshing or buzzing sound in your ears, take the problem seriously. It may be a warning sign that you also have hearing loss, or that you are experiencing a medical issue that needs to be addressed before it worsens. Take steps to protect your ears from loud noises, find ways to distract your ears, and see a professional before what started as a nagging problem leads to bigger issues.