Have you had a ringing in your ears since you went to that really loud music concert? Are you experiencing a whistling or buzzing sound in your ears after you hit your head during a fall? These are all signs of tinnitus.
If you have just noticed these distracting sounds, you may feel worried about losing your ability to hear. So let us put your mind at ease – tinnitus does not cause hearing loss and is most often not a sign of something worse going on.
While it is probably a relief to read that, day to day, tinnitus may still be disrupting your sleep, making it hard for you to concentrate at work or school, and even taking all the fun out of hanging out with friends and family. That’s why in this blog we’ll provide advice and tips on how you can manage your tinnitus.
Before we get to that, here’s a little more background on what tinnitus is and how it is caused.
Types of tinnitus
Whistling, whooshing, buzzing, hissing, ringing, the list of strange sounds that tinnitus results in is almost endless. Everyone experiences it differently, but from a medical point of view, tinnitus falls into 2 specific categories: subjective and objective.
Objective tinnitus is incredibly rare and can be heard by an Audiologist when they examine your ears. Much more common and affecting 15 million Americans, is subjective tinnitus. This is when the sounds created by tinnitus can only be heard by you.
How do you get tinnitus?
By far the most common cause is repeated exposure to loud noises. This can be anything from power tools and music concerts, to lawnmowers and motorcycle engines. Stress, head trauma, diseases of the nervous system, and compacted ear wax can also result in tinnitus.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for tinnitus, but when it comes to subjective tinnitus, it can resolve on its own over time. If this hasn’t happened for you, there are several ways that you can manage your symptoms so you can get on with your day and get some rest at night.
Tips for dealing with tinnitus
Rather than focusing on the sounds produced by tinnitus, you can instead distract yourself by listening to music or white noise produced by tinnitus smartphone apps. If you wear hearing aids, you can get ones with built-in tinnitus maskers, which also produce masking noises.
Stress is a known cause of tinnitus. Finding the time to relax, in whatever way works for you, can ease your symptoms. Biofeedback training is specifically designed to help you relax your muscles and can also help with tinnitus.
Coffee and smoking are both known to worsen the symptoms of tinnitus, so keep these to a minimum or give them up altogether if you can.
There are certain medications, such as tricyclic antidepressants, which can reduce the symptoms of tinnitus, but they cannot completely stop them. They also have side effects and are usually only prescribed for severe cases of tinnitus.
So what should you do? Which approach to managing your tinnitus is right for you? It is often a case of trying them out and seeing what works best. But before you make your decision, it is important to get your hearing health checked by a professional, so that you can be certain you have tinnitus, find out which type you have, and discuss your options with someone who is specially trained to help.
Get in touch
At North Houston Hearing Solutions, your local hearing specialist, you can get the help and support you need to manage your tinnitus and stay in good hearing health with any one of our highly trained Audiologists. All you need to do now is call us at 281-444-9800.
Dr. Lacey Brooks received a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry in 2003, and earned her doctorate of audiology in 2009. She completed her clinical internships and residency at various facilities within Houston Medical Center. Dr. Brooks is a professional member of the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), a member of the Texas Academy of Audiology (TAA), and is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). She is also the vice president of the Louisiana State University Houston Chapter Alumni Association.