Is the Ringing, Buzzing, and Hissing All in Your Head?
If you’re one of the 15% to 20%1 of people who experience tinnitus, then unfortunately yes, those irritating noises are definitely coming from inside your own noggin. But just because you’re unintentionally creating the sounds doesn’t mean you can’t be intentional about reducing the impact of tinnitus, preventing it from getting worse, and finding some relief.
What is tinnitus?
Most people who suffer from tinnitus describe it as a high-pitched ringing in one or both ears that isn’t cause by an external sound that everyone else can hear too. But it might also present as a buzzing, roaring, hissing, or humming sound. In some rarer cases, it can be a rhythmic pulsing or whooshing noise, often in time with your heartbeat.2
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus is related to hearing loss, but there are many possible reasons for that pesky ringing your ears:
- Exposure to loud noise
- Middle-ear infections
- Anxiety and stress
- Reactions to medications
- Neck or head injuries
- Intolerance to noise
- Earwax build-up
- Inflamed blood vessels around the ear
- Other untreated medical conditions such as Ménière’s disease or a middle ear infection, for example
Everybody is different, so the best way to figure out why you’re experiencing tinnitus is to talk to your doctor and visit a hearing care professional for a thorough exam and comprehensive hearing test. Knowing the cause can help determine the best way to begin managing your condition and finding some relief.
While it shouldn’t replace an in-person visit with a healthcare provider, this quick, online tinnitus test can help you understand if you might have tinnitus, and how it may be impacting your everyday life.
How can I make this blasted ringing stop?
The bad news is that there’s no known cure for tinnitus. The good news? There are things you can do to minimize its impact.
Hearing well is important for many reasons, not the least of which is that it helps us stay active, connected, and present in our own lives, which is so critical as we age. So if you are experiencing symptoms of tinnitus, take comfort in the fact that there are management techniques that might help neutralize some of its impact and get you back to enjoying your full, wonderful life.
Relaxation and mindfulness practices, like yoga and meditation, have been proven to be particularly effective in relieving tinnitus and helping to cope with the frustration that it can cause. Speaking to a therapist or counselor is also a good plan of attack if you are struggling to manage your anxiety on your own.
Speaking of therapy, sound therapy – a process during which you listen to different, carefully selected sounds – can help you feel that your tinnitus is reduced or temporarily gone. A hearing care professional can recommend the sound therapy that’s right for you, be it masking sound generator devices, apps, or hearing aids with tinnitus sound therapy features.
In fact, hearing aids are a great tool for helping you deal with tinnitus. They can make the ringing and other bothersome sounds stand out less by amplifying the sounds around you that you actually want to hear instead. Since 80% of people with tinnitus also have hearing loss, hearing aids are a great option to explore.
If you suspect that you have tinnitus, don’t hesitate to seek help. Untreated tinnitus can interfere with your sleep, make concentrating difficult, increase your isolation, and even cause depression. So show your ears some love and take advantage of a free, comprehensive hearing assessment at a HearingLife clinic near you.
HearingLife forms the largest network of hearing clinics with over 350 network clinics across Canada. Staffed by certified hearing healthcare professionals, HearingLife offers the most advanced hearing aid technology and up-to-date diagnostic equipment, as well as clinical support and exclusive 360-AfterCare. #LoveYourEars and visit HearingLife to book an appointment for your free trial today.