You’ve noticed that you have been hearing some sort of sound in your ear. It might be a ringing, a buzzing, a roaring, sound like water running, crickets, locusts, or even your pulse. What is it? And what can you do about it?
All of the types of noise mentioned above fall into the category of tinnitus. Tinnitus is a noise generated within the ear that only you can hear (in extremely rare cases is it audible to another person). Tinnitus is actually a rather common occurrence. Occasional, brief bursts of ringing in the ear are completely normal. It’s like a muscle twitch that we get sometimes in our eyelid or a finger. It’s just a misfire of the nervous system in the ear. It is only when the tinnitus becomes constant that it becomes more of an issue.
What can you do about constant tinnitus? Firstly, you need to recognize that tinnitus is a symptom, not the problem. Hearing loss is the most common cause of tinnitus. However, there are other causes such as side effect of medication, another medical issues, or damage to the ear from noise exposure. It is important that when you notice that you have a persistent tinnitus you seek medical evaluation. This may also include a referral to an Audiologist for a hearing examination.
While you are waiting to see your physician, or at any time you are experiencing problematic tinnitus, here are 6 things you can do to manage it.
This is sometimes easier said than done, but if you pay attention to the noise you hear, it just gets louder and more bothersome. Tune it out, ignore it. Which leads us to the next suggestion.
Some individuals find that when there are other sounds in the environment, their tinnitus is less noticeable. This will be especially important if the tinnitus is interfering with your sleep. Have a fan on, the TV, a radio, or a noise machine (ones that sound like the ocean or rainfall, etc.). Having that little bit of noise can help you tune out the noise in your ears.
You need to remember CATS: Caffeine, Alcohol, Tobacco, Salt. The inner ear is filled with fluid. Anything you eat, drink, or do, that upsets the fluid level in the body can upset the fluid level in the ear and cause tinnitus. Keeping a moderate intake of caffeine, salt and alcohol. Reducing your use of tobacco. And staying hydrated by drinking water will help reduce the impact of tinnitus. Keep a journal if you need to. On days when your tinnitus seems particularly loud, think back; what have you eaten or drank or done in the last 24-36 hours? Did you eat a salty meal? Did you sweat more than normal and not drink enough water? Did you drink more coffee or soda than normal? You might be able to identify the things that trigger your tinnitus so that you can learn to avoid them.
Stress can also cause tinnitus to flare up. There isn’t a lot we can do about stress other than recognize that you are experiencing stress. One treatment method for tinnitus includes meditation. Try to find the time to take a few minutes to yourself and relax. Take some deep breaths and let all the negative go.
If you have changed medications recently, you might want to see if the new medication lists tinnitus as a possible side effect. Common medications that can have tinnitus as a side effect include heart or blood pressure medications (especially those that have a diuretic in them), some migraine medications, medications that affect our central nervous system, and some pain killers.
Over-the-counter, herbal supplements that claim to help tinnitus are typically no more effective than a placebo. If you research their contents, some ingredients are actually poisons! Or do you really need 3000% of the FDAs daily recommended allowance of a particular vitamin or mineral. There is no proven effective medication to stop tinnitus.
If you have tinnitus that has become a more constant presence in your life, call our office and schedule an appointment today. Please call our office at 361-287-0100 to schedule an appointment.