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Are you finding that the moment you finally find a moment of peace and quiet from a busy day, you cannot relax due to a buzz in your ears that won’t quit? This is often also described as a ringing, roaring or hissing and has no external source. It comes from inside your ears and is commonly called tinnitus.
What causes tinnitus?
While tinnitus can be instigated by loud noise or advanced age causing hearing damage, other causes include an excess of earwax, certain medications classified as ototoxic, or changes in the bones of the ear. Tinnitus occurs much like hearing loss, when there is interference or interruption in sound from the ears to the brain. Tinnitus is neurological in nature. The part of the brain that controls hearing is the auditory cortex and when information is interrupted, neural circuits can fail to receive signals properly.
As the tiny hairs and nerves that send sound to the auditory cortex sustain damage, these cells can send interference to our brains that is perceived as the ringing sounds of tinnitus. These ringing sounds can be extremely distracting. If you are trying to rest the relentless noise can instigate sleeplessness, insomnia and anxiety. The problem is that stress is a major instigator of tinnitus, amplifying the effects. This can create a vicious loop as tinnitus creates stress and stress can make tinnitus more extreme.
Like hearing loss, there is no cure for tinnitus, but practicing different strategies for reducing the effects of tinnitus can help you control this frustrating condition.
Focus on stress reduction
It is important to identify the factors in your life that cause you the most stress and focus on harm reduction. If you know an environment stresses you out, it is important to reduce the aspects that bring you anxiety. Create a calm living and working space, and avoid stimulants like caffeine and cigarettes. Prioritize stress reducing activities like meditation and yoga, that may bring down your stress levels and help you relax when it is time to sleep. While this isn’t a cure all it is a step in reducing symptoms.
Protect your ears
Hearing loss and tinnitus are caused by similar causes, therefore protecting your ears from further hearing damage can decrease the degree of your tinnitus. When you know you are going to be exposed to loud noises or dangerously loud environments be sure to wear ear plugs to protect your ears. It is a good idea to carry earplugs with you at all times in the event that you are unexpectedly exposed to dangerous levels of noise.
Make the place where you sleep a restful environment
It is common for tinnitus to be most prominent right before sleep when it is most quiet. Make sure the place where you sleep is calm and relaxing. Often tinnitus is worse when your head is vertical, making recumbent time in bed a nightmare for those trying to escape the effects of tinnitus. Try propping up your head with a pillow to reduce this issue. Many use a white noise machine or relaxing music to cover and distract from tinnitus.
Masking your tinnitus
If tinnitus is bothering you during the day as well as before bed, using sounds to distract and mask tinnitus is an effective strategy for lessening the annoyance of tinnitus. Listening to your favorite music or podcast at a safe volume can help to decentralize the presence of tinnitus in your head.
Acupuncture for tinnitus
As tinnitus has no cure, only treatments to lessen the effect, acupuncture has been found by many to lessen symptoms. While western medicine is reluctant to substantiate claims of the healing powers of reducing tinnitus using acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine has been using this practice for centuries. Regardless, much like meditation, exercise and yoga, acupuncture has been found to lessen stress levels which has also been found to relieve the buzzing of tinnitus.
Hearing aids and tinnitus
Hearing aids are a common way to reduce the effects of tinnitus. Hearing aids amplify the sounds around you and subdue background noise so you can prioritize conversation. When you can hear clearer, you can focus on those sounds rather than the frustrating ringing in your ears. Hearing aids often come with tinnitus masking features to lessen the issue. To find the best hearing aids to fight your tinnitus, visit us for a consultation.