You can’t focus on conversations with friends and family because of the ringing in your ears. You can’t sleep. Even listening to the radio is difficult. If you’re experiencing ringing in your ears due to tinnitus, it’s annoying and disruptive. It can interfere with your life and be agonizing to endure. Furthermore, your friends and family don’t understand that you have constant noise in your ears, which makes you feel isolated.
You’re not alone, however. The Hearing Health Foundation estimates that approximately 25 million Americans are living with tinnitus, which ranges from mild or occasional to persistent and painful.
Need relief from your tinnitus? You need to begin by identifying the root cause.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus isn’t a medical condition. It’s typically your body’s response to the following conditions:
- Exposure to loud noise
- High blood pressure
- Certain medications
- Severe stress
- Untreated diabetes
- Hormonal changes
In addition to having health-related causes, there are a variety of tinnitus symptoms:
- Ringing in your ears
- Thumping sounds
- Chirping sounds
- Dial tone sounds
- Humming sounds
- You hear what sounds like static
Regardless of the sounds, these symptoms can wreak havoc on your life. Let’s review how you can manage your tinnitus.
1. Identify and treat the underlying condition
When possible, work with a hearing professional to identify the underlying cause of your tinnitus. Some causes are easier to address than others. Managing your blood pressure or blood sugar, for example, can reduce the volume of your tinnitus symptoms. Taking care of your overall health is a good first step.
This may not completely stop your tinnitus, but it can help you manage it by following the tips in this article.
2. Stop smoking
Smokers are 70% more likely to develop tinnitus. Smoking may be the cause of your tinnitus, or it may be making it worse. Smoking impacts blood flow to the inner ear and can cause nerve sensitivity, either of which can cause tinnitus. You now have another reason to quit.
3. Create a soothing ambiance
Our senses work together and enable us to experience the world. Make your home, or a single room, your sanctuary. Play soothing music. Watch inspirational visuals. Use aromatherapy. If you feel stressed or your tinnitus is getting worse, go to your sanctuary. Take some deep, relaxing breaths to melt the stress away.
Stress and anxiety have been shown to make tinnitus symptoms worse, and vice versa. Stress and tinnitus can be a vicious cycle.
4. Use white noise
If you need quick relief, sometimes the simplest fixes are best, even though they may be temporary. Sleep with a fan in the room. Listen to recordings of soothing sounds. Bring something to listen to in your hotel room when you travel.
5. Take more “me time”
Do you feel unproductive when you’re relaxing? This is a common philosophy that can do you harm. Our bodies and minds aren’t designed to always be operating. We need time to relax, reflect, and recuperate.
Take 10 minutes or more each day to do absolutely nothing. Turn off your devices. Try to replace your worries with positive thoughts. It may prove difficult at first, but it will become easier.
Take time each week to do things you enjoy. These may require you to be more active physically, but it’s important to do something you love.
6. Do tinnitus-fighting activities
Certain activities can help ease your mind and keep you from dwelling on regrets about yesterday or concerns over the future. These activities will also reduce your high blood pressure, which can lead to tinnitus. Find an activity you like, join a class, or do exercises at home.
Common activities to combat tinnitus include:
- Tai chi
- Systematically relax your muscles by starting on one side of your body and working toward the other side.
- Light exercise
A British Tinnitus Foundation study found these types of mindfulness activities were more beneficial than basic relaxation techniques. They gave people mental tools they can use to manage symptoms even when not participating in the activities.
7. Make time for sleep
Sleep time is recovery time. It shouldn’t be an afterthought to a busy day. Your health is directly related to the quality of your sleep.
Research shows 66% to 76% of tinnitus sufferers have sleep problems. Lack of sleep can make tinnitus worse. Take the following steps to help improve your sleep cycle:
- Go to bed when you get sleepy. If you don’t, your brain produces hormones to keep you awake because it thinks you need to stay up. These hormones will stay in your system for hours.
- Meditate when you can’t sleep.
- Avoid electronics and caffeine too close to bedtime.
Get rid of the ringing
Get your hearing tested and talk to a hearing specialist about other solutions. A hearing specialist can help you identify potential causes and address them using therapies, hearing aids, and other options.