Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is no small thing. Millions of people suffer from this unpleasant condition. People have even committed suicide, stating that the constant ringing was driving them mad!
I have tinnitus although I’ve learned to ignore it and I mostly don’t notice it unless I’m thinking about it – like now. :-( My brother was very bothered by it and went through several treatment programs, including a $6,000 machine that he listened to for an hour a day. I can’t imagine what the sound of total silence is like, which is pretty sad when you think about it.
What Is Tinnitus?
The senses we have were made so that we can all enjoy life at its fullest. We see the beauty of a sunset, smell the crisp scent of woodsmoke and we can hear the trill of birds or the sounds of our favorite music.
But for some people, theres a condition that can interfere with or rob them of the joy of listening to their favorite sounds. It can also rob them of many of lifes pleasures. That condition is tinnitus.
Tinnitus is hearing a sound inside your ear when the sound doesnt exist outside of your ear. The definition for the word tinnitus means ringing. But its not always limited to ringing.
People who suffer with tinnitus might hear a variety of noises including ringing or buzzing or a high-pitched whine in their ear. Millions of people struggle with tinnitus and the condition often affects just one ear, but can be in both. In some rare cases, the patient has a medical condition, which is cause behind the tinnitus.
Often called phantom noises because they cant be heard outside the ear, the sound these noises give off can range from a dull, annoying buzz to a sharp, high-pitched whining noise.
For the cases that are dull and merely annoying, the tinnitus is more easily ignored. But some cases of tinnitus can reach the point where the noise can make it hard to get any work done.
The noise in the ear can reach such a pitch that it can cause you to miss parts of conversations around you or interrupt any activity that requires listening. Some of these cases can quickly become intolerable.
Tinnitus can be chronic and ongoing, in which case it doesnt ever let up. However, tinnitus can also be transient or temporary and only show up unexpectedly at random times.
There can be reasons behind any sudden onset of the condition – and that occurs when auditory signals processed by the brain fail to properly translate the signal. Any tinnitus that suddenly appears after a virus should be checked out by a doctor.
The symptoms of tinnitus can vary and no two people will report the exact same symptoms, but most people who have the condition report hearing a low pitched buzzing sound or hissing.
People with tinnitus can also hear roaring or a whistling sound like the high-pitched noise a teakettle can give off. The high-pitched ringing appears to be the most common sound. Many people also get the feeling that something is lodged in or clogging the ear, making hearing more difficult.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Though tinnitus can develop at any time, researchers have been able to identify several common factors among those who have the condition. Within the ear, each person has a nerve that enables hearing. At the end of that nerve are tiny nerve endings. When those tiny nerve endings get damaged, the results can be tinnitus and hearing loss.
Hearing loss can occur first – before the symptoms of tinnitus – and actually then result in tinnitus. One of the main causes of hearing loss is prolonged exposure to sounds louder than the auditory nerve can handle.
Rock music concerts, jobs working with loud machinery and other conditions where the decibels are too high can cause hearing loss. Some loss takes effect immediately – you might notice a ringing in your ears after leaving a concert. Other losses will show up years down the road.
Some medications can cause hearing loss. Even over the counter drugs like aspirin can greatly increase the risk of hearing loss, according to one medical journal. If you are already experiencing a battle with tinnitus, make sure you read the side effects of all of the medications that you take and if you can, avoid ones that can cause hearing loss. These medicines can cause hearing loss because of the way they act on the auditory nerve.
Any kind of damage to the ear has the potential to cause tinnitus. Getting hit in the head or near the ear can cause damage because the cells are very fragile and easily injured. Other causes of tinnitus often dont raise any red flags at first. Ear infections, especially repeated ear infections, can cause tinnitus. Ear infections can cause the eardrum to rupture, which in turn can cause tinnitus.
Even the foods you eat can aggravate tinnitus – as can any undiagnosed or diagnosed medical condition. Sometimes tinnitus has a specific reason, and those cases are more easily treated.
Tinnitus thats related to allergies can often be relieved by taking allergy medications. For people who have difficulty with blood pressure balance, tinnitus can be treated by bringing the blood pressure under control.
Still other causes of tinnitus are endocrine related. A malfunctioning thyroid, for example can cause tinnitus. Using certain medications to treat conditions can bring on tinnitus, but this type usually goes away once the medication is discontinued.
Conditions that cause problems with the temporomandibular joint of the jaw can lead to tinnitus. The muscles used in the jaw are connected with a common nerve shared by the ear. A more rare cause of tinnitus can be a tumor growing on the nerve in or around the ear.
Stress and Tinnitus
Stress is something we all have to live with. Its how we deal with what goes on in our lives that matters. Stress can be associated with both good and bad events. For example, celebrating the birth of a child or making a move to a new state can both be happy events. But even happy events can cause stress – and the stress associated with life changes affect our physical selves.
Any stress you experience has a reaction inside your body. Stress raises the blood pressure and makes the heart work harder at ordinary tasks. Stress can cause stomach problems and problems concentrating. Stress can also cause us to lose sleep, which affects our health and can worsen any physical ailments.
People who have tinnitus deal with a different level of stress because stress can ratchet up their symptoms. Since tinnitus can be a chronic condition, it can lead to feeling depressed that their tinnitus will never go away. Stress can cause people with tinnitus to lose sleep and this compounds the stress because insomnia makes the condition worse.
Stress interacts with tinnitus in a negative way. One of the ways it interacts is by causing the ringing (or other sounds) in the ear to last longer and rise in frequency of noise level. For people who live with tinnitus, stress management techniques are a must have.
If you do have the condition, to lessen the stress in your life, learn techniques that can minimize or eliminate the fallout from the stress. This will include things like meditation or yoga.
Both of these teach people the art of relaxing and letting go. Yoga helps lower feelings of anxiety and it helps level out your blood pressure. Another stress relieving technique is to verbally release any of the anxieties you feel in any area of life.
Share your anxieties with someone trained in the art of stress management, such as a therapist. Taking steady, deep breaths can help patients learn how to exhale the stress and relax. Some people with tinnitus use hypnosis sessions as a way of dealing with the condition.
Getting physical with exercise helps the body with circulation. It can improve poor blood flow, which has been linked to tinnitus symptoms. Exercise can also help you get a good nights sleep so you get the rest your body needs.
If youve discovered that your tinnitus is suddenly worse than what it used to be, examine your life for any areas of stress and deal with them quickly so you can get back to enjoying your life and all of the sounds that come with it.
Are There Cures for Tinnitus?
People joke about earworms or voices in our heads, but when it comes to ringing in the ears, thats no laughing matter for the millions who have tinnitus. Thankfully, there are treatment options available to manage or cure the condition.
A safe and simple solution to start with is through home treatment options. These are options that include using only natural products like minerals or vitamins. Acupuncture is also a natural remedy for tinnitus. Even though you might not think so, acupuncture is a very relaxing way to treat tinnitus.
Another treatment for tinnitus is found through the use of hearing aids. Though it might seem odd, using hearing aids can help cure tinnitus because the hearing aids can work on the same pitch level as the noise caused by the condition.
Many people turn to relaxation techniques to help relieve their tinnitus symptoms. One of the techniques that falls under the relaxation category is biofeedback. Learning about biofeedback has helped many people with tinnitus as well as other chronic conditions. This is a form of alternative medicine in which patients learn use mind over body control to gain desired results over the bodys functions.
Dealing with tinnitus can be very stressful and cause a lot of negative thoughts and feelings, which are completely understandable. Negative thoughts and feelings can add a lot of stress, but there is help.
Therapy or counseling with someone who knows how to offer solutions to those who deal with chronic conditions can also be very helpful toward curing tinnitus. Because pain can cause negative reactions within our bodies, therapy is helpful in teaching people how to handle and deal with the negative reactions. It can help to change the way people think about their condition and help them take a more positive approach.
Many people also find help through the use of a noise machine or other devices that can produce whats known as white noise. White noise can cover most sounds because it contains a variety of sound frequencies.
Users can tune out the noise caused by the tinnitus because the white noise covers it. Some people who have tinnitus listen to looped recordings of ocean waves crashing or the sound of rain.
One cure for tinnitus can be found through the use of craniosacral therapy. This is a form of alternative medicine and is done by someone skilled in massage therapy. Some chiropractors know how to perform this therapy.
For people who havent been able to find success using any of the more natural remedies, doctors can prescribe medications like antidepressants for the relaxation benefits that can help relieve the symptoms associated with tinnitus.
Tinnitus Natural Remedies
Tinnitus is not the new kid on the block. The condition has existed for centuries and was recorded to affect people as early as the 1600s. Some very famous people had a struggle with the condition.
Beethoven, who composed such beautiful music, wrote about his ears constantly whistling and buzzing. Michelangelo, famous for his beautiful art portrayed in the Sistine Chapel, wrote about the sound in his ears.
Regardless of who you are, having to live with a ringing in your ears isnt a whole lot of fun. It can be mildly distracting or it can so problematic that you cant enjoy life the way you once did.
For those who struggle with the condition of tinnitus, there are easy remedies available that can give you some much-needed relief. Whenever your body is dealing with a health issue, the first area you should look at is what youre putting into your body.
Getting relief for your tinnitus might be as simple as making some dietary adjustments. In that case, you would simply look for foods that have anti-inflammatory benefits. Such benefits can be found in foods like salmon (for the Omega 3), green tea, sweet potatoes and extra virgin olive oil. Using garlic or apple cider can help with tinnitus too, in some cases.
Home remedies also include taking a natural antioxidant in supplement form that can boost the effectiveness of the immune system. Using remedies found at the health food store, such as Ginkgo Biloba, can help with the dizziness that often goes hand in hand with tinnitus.
Creating a homemade nasal spray can be effective as a treatment for tinnitus. To make a homemade nasal spray, combine a pint of water (use warm, not cold), a teaspoon of glycerin and a teaspoon of salt. Mix the ingredients together in a small spray bottle and use the way you would a nasal spray.
Another remedy is aromatherapy – a natural remedy thats been used successfully in the treatment of tinnitus. Using a diffuser, choose oils like rose or Cypress to scent the air. Lavender is helpful too, and is a natural therapy that can help the body to regenerate cells.
The list of natural remedies for relief from tinnitus includes taking minerals or using herbs. Sometimes having a vitamin deficiency can result in tinnitus. So if youre suffering from tinnitus, having your vitamin levels checked by your doctor can be a step toward finding healing. Using sound therapy can also help cure tinnitus. You may have to try more than one remedy to find the one that works for you.
Ginkgo Biloba: Ginkgo biloba herbal remedies are taken from the tree of the same name. This extract has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine, and is commonly used in the Western world to enhance blood flow through the body. As such, it is used to treat or prevent a number of conditions related to the brain, including memory loss, Alzheimer’s and dementia. It’s also commonly used by tinnitus sufferers.
As with many herbal treatments, more studies are needed to prove the link between ginkgo biloba and tinnitus. There have been some studies into its effects, however, which seem to suggest that it works no better than a placebo. The British Tinnitus Association (BTA), for example, found no noticeable effects on a study of 2000 tinnitus sufferers.
Despite the fact that studies suggest that ginkgo as ineffective as a treatment for tinnitus, it’s not quite that simple. For one, many people swear by the remedy in helping to improve the symptoms. The BTA also claim that it has helped to improve general wellbeing in a number of patients which, in turn, has left them in a better state to manage and deal with their tinnitus psychologically.
Keeping yourself well, both in body and mind, it essential to fighting tinnitus. The more run down you get, the more likely it is that you’ll focus on the ringing and the detrimental effect it has on your life. Staying healthy, through the use of safe natural supplements such as ginkgo biloba, is useful for keeping your tinnitus under control.
You should always check with a doctor before using any form of herbal supplement, as even natural treatments come with side effects and may interact with other medicine. That said, the main drawback of ginkgo biloba is the cost. Most tinnitus organizations recommend you try it if you can afford it; if you find it helps in any way, then keep using it to manage your tinnitus.
Tinnitus Maskers: What Are They And Do They Work?
Tinnitus maskers are often used to help make the condition more manageable. For those who suffer from a constant ringing in the ears, it can often be hard to concentrate, to hear, and to fall asleep at night. The principle behind maskers is simply to drown out the sound to help you forget about the ringing.
White noise: some of the most popular tinnitus maskers are able to produce white noise. This is the same sound that your radio makes when it isnt tuned into a particular station, and can help to take your mind off the ringing. A number of specific maskers have been produced for tinnitus sufferers, including generators that can be worn inside the ear (much like a hearing aid), and those that can be played through speakers under a pillow at night.
Other types of sound maskers: in reality, people use all kinds of techniques to mask the sound of their tinnitus. For example, you might like the low noise of a fan in the background, or to keep the TV or radio on all day. Anything that creates background sound can help to take the focus away from the ringing in your ears.
Sound maskers can make use of both artificial and natural sounds depending on the preference of the person using them.
Hearing aids: in some cases, masking might not be effective if the device used to mask cant be heard properly. If tinnitus is experienced alongside hearing loss then wearing a hearing aid can often help to relieve the symptoms, as other external noises become louder than the tinnitus.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy: Tinnitus maskers are also used as part of tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) but at a lower level. The aim behind this treatment is for the brain to eventually learn to tune out the noise, just as it does with the kinds of external sounds that we all hear in our everyday lives: a process known as habituation. This kind of therapy is performed by trained professionals at the same time as counseling to help patients deal with the negative association that they may have with the ringing sounds.
Unfortunately, sound masking doesnt work with all types of tinnitus. The severity and nature of the condition ranges from person to person. In some cases, switching off the masker can also lead to the sound coming back worse than it was before. For this reason, many people choose to combine tinnitus maskers with other treatments to find a method that works for them.