I am going to write this post quickly because talking about tinnitus seems to make my own tinnitus worse…
Tinnitus, otherwise known as ringing in the ears, is a common condition induced by excess ear wax, hearing loss, or noise exposure. Other causes can be identified by a physician.
Most people find it a nuisance, but it doesn’t affect daily life for the most part. You probably have heard ringing in your ears after being in a loud movie theater or concert.
In the case of hearing loss, tinnitus can range from mild to severe, often interfering with the ability to hear and communicate. It can create the effect of hearing nails on a chalkboard when listening to speech, TV, and other outside sounds.
It is characterized by ringing, roaring, hissing, popping, and similar sounds. I often call it a symphony playing in my ears. I’ve even compared it to a siren going off. Not fun. It is based in the brain, not the ear itself—related to blood flow or muscle contraction on top of damaged nerves.
There aren’t any definitive ways to cure tinnitus, but there is a lot of research being done on it. There are some at-home treatments such as masking it with other white noise or music. I find that soft, instrumental music helps. Stress can aggravate it, so stress relief techniques such as yoga might ease the symptoms. Dietary changes such as limiting, or eliminating salt, caffeine, or alcohol have been reported to show improvement. Not sure I’m ready to give up caffeine though!
When I lost my hearing in one ear 15 years ago I suffered severe tinnitus in that ear until I got the cochlear implant last year. I still get it, but nothing like I did prior to my CI surgery. Having auditory stimulation on that side is probably a major reason why it has improved so much. Now, I primarily experience tinnitus in the other ear that currently has a hearing aid.
The point of this post is to give a basic idea of what tinnitus is, and to describe possible ways to help treat it. For more complete information and diagnosis, check with an ear, nose, and throat physician. They can identify the cause and provide a proper treatment method.
If you want to learn more about tinnitus, check out the American Tinnitus Association’s website at: http://www.ata.org/.
Take care of your ears. Tinnitus is your brain’s way of saying…this is too much! Turn the music down, wear ear plugs in extremely noisy situations. You know the drill.