Tinnitus is the medical term for the noises, such as ringing, clicking, hissing, or roaring, that many people hear often or all of the time. As a result they can find it difficult to hear, sleep, or work. Tinnitus is associated with hearing loss, side-effects of certain medicines, and other health problems. Loud noises,which damage the inner ear, are considered the major contributor. However, more than 200 pharmaceuticals have been linked to tinnitus, and health problems such as tumors, allergies, and circulatory issues can be at the root, as well.
While there is no cure for tinnitus, there are ways to make it easier to live with. The key is to experiment with various treatments until you find the right one. Most of the treatments aim at distracting the individual from thinking about the tinnitus sound and inducing relaxation. Try the following before turning to the more drastic solutions below:
- To avoid making your tinnitus worse, wear ear plugs or ear muffs when exposed to loud noises
- Make sure your blood pressure is under control
- Decrease your intake of salt. Salt impairs blood circulation
- Avoid stimulants such as coffee, tea, cola, and tobacco
- Exercise daily to improve circulation
- Get adequate rest and avoid fatigue
- Try to stop worrying about the noise. Recognize your head noise as an annoyance and learn to ignore it as much as possible
- Listen to quiet music
Hearing aids make it easier for some people to hear, and the better they hear, the less likely they are to notice their tinnitus. Maskers are small electronic devices that use sound to make tinnitus less noticeable. Maskers do not make tinnitus go away, but they make the ringing or roaring seem softer. For some people, maskers hide their tinnitus so well that they can barely hear it. Similarly, listening to static at a low volume on the radio or using bedside maskers can help.
- Audiology and Auditory Dysfunction, George T. Mencher, Sanford E. Gerber, Andrew McCombe, Allyn & Bacon, 1997.
- National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), www.nidcd.nih.gov
- American Tinnitus Association, www.ata.org
- American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, www.entnet.org