We all need a break from noise every now and then. Have you ever found yourself finally away from the hum of people, cars, and construction to gather some needed peace and quiet, only to be confronted with an inescapable buzz in your ears? This buzz is called tinnitus and can present itself in many forms such as a hum, ringing, swoosh or roar. Regardless, this sound has no external source because it is emanating from inside your head. If this is stressing you out, it’s important to understand that you are not alone in this and there are many solutions for managing your tinnitus.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is estimated to affect approximately 50 million people in the US alone and is the number one medical concern for veterans returning from combat. This is because tinnitus and hearing loss are closely related. While tinnitus does not mean that you have hearing loss it is closely related. This may be due to a common theory on exactly where tinnitus comes from. Researchers believe that tinnitus occurs when the tiny hair cells of the inner ear, which communicate with the brain, are damaged. The damaged cells send feedback to the brain, which is registered as tinnitus. For some people, tinnitus might just be a mild condition that comes and goes, but for nearly 2 million people in the US, who struggle with severe and sometimes debilitating tinnitus this is a serious problem. While there is currently no permanent cure for tinnitus there are many active solutions you can try to reduce and manage your symptoms.
Focusing on your tinnitus can make it seem worse. It creates a painful cycle where the more you stress about your tinnitus, the worse it can seem. One active solution to distract or cover up tinnitus is masking it. Using another sound that doesn’t seem to stress you out as much can help. Many people enjoy using white noise machines or relaxing ambient music or the sound of the rain or ocean, to obscure the ringing in their ears. Sometimes just turning on a fan on a hot evening can help your tinnitus seem less prominent.
Focus on Your Reaction
Stress is one of the biggest factors in escalating the effects of tinnitus. When you first hear tinnitus, you may start to worry if the sound will bother you all night. This can cause sleep issues as you lay awake worrying and have trouble focusing during the day. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of talk therapy where a therapist can help you focus on your reaction to tinnitus. In many cases by focusing on modifying your stress response to tinnitus you can lessen the symptoms.
Meditation and Exercise
There are other successful ways that people have found to lower their stress response to tinnitus without having to visit a doctor. For instance, many people who struggle with tinnitus find relief through meditation. Many report that as they try to focus singularly on being the buzz of tinnitus simply slips away into the background. Others find that regular exercise can reduce stress levels and also reduce tinnitus. Yoga has also been reported to be a successful harm reduction tactic for tinnitus, as it helps people focus on being in the body, posture, place in the world and greater universe.
Eating for Health
Eating a healthy diet full of whole foods such as vegetables, fruits and lean proteins can help virtually every aspect of your health. Your heart and blood pressure benefit from this, but now researchers are finding that it can also reduce tinnitus. A 2020 study found that Higher intake of fat and starch was associated with increased risk of tinnitus. The study also discovered that a diet which contained more high fat and low fruit and vegetable intake was associated with increased tinnitus. This might be due to anti-inflammatory diets’ effect on blood pressure and heart health. When the fragile cells of the inner ear which cause hearing loss and tinnitus can easily become damaged when they don’t receive ample blood supply due to health conditions related to blood delivery.
Addressing Hearing Loss
Untreated hearing loss can be stressful when you are constantly struggling to hear. Many find that by treating their hearing loss with hearing aids can also reduce tinnitus. Even more hopeful, the latest hearing aids come with features which detect the tone of your tinnitus and mask it by sending out a comparable tone. This can render the effects of tinnitus virtually absent. To find out what hearing aids can do for you and your tinnitus, schedule a hearing exam with us today!