How do I get rid of ringing in my ears?

ringing in my ears

There’s an old wives’ tale that goes like this: “if you hear ringing in your ears, someone is talking about you.” The truth of the matter is, if you hear ringing in your ears, you’re probably suffering from tinnitus!

What is tinnitus?

According to the Mayo Clinic, tinnitus is simply defined as the “perception of noise or ringing in the ears.” Notice the word perception in the definition. This means that the noise doesn’t actually exist, but it is experienced by an individual as if it does.

What causes tinnitus?

Although not considered a disease itself, tinnitus can be very bothersome to those who have it. The presence of tinnitus usually indicates that some underlying condition exists. Some common causes of tinnitus are as follows:

  • Damage to inner ear hairs
  • Hearing loss due to aging
  • Loud noise exposure – long term, repeated exposure can lead to noise-related hearing loss and permanent tinnitus. Short term, infrequent exposure can lead to temporary tinnitus that goes away on its own.
  • Earwax buildup – an earwax blockage can irritate the eardrum and cause tinnitus.
  • Diseases or other health disorders – these can include Meniere’s Disease, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and head or neck tumors.
  • Medications – some are known to cause tinnitus, and others can worsen it. Symptoms often disappear once the drug is no longer being used.
  • Unknown causes – sometimes, no clear cause can be identified. 

Treatment for tinnitus

When there is an obvious cause for tinnitus, treatment is usually based on remedying the underlying condition. For example, if age-related hearing loss is the cause, treatment might consist of hearing aids. Other common treatment options include:

  1. Sound-masking: This can be achieved via tabletop devices or ones that fit directly inside the ear. The purpose of these machines is to provide a pleasant external noise that drowns out the perceived noise within the ear.
  2. Exercise: Since some tinnitus cases are caused or worsened by stress, disease, lack of sleep, or depression, exercise can help improve overall health and potentially lessen tinnitus symptoms.
  3. Earwax removal: We’re not talking about an average amount of earwax here, but rather a large buildup that blocks the ear canal and affects the proper functioning of the ear. Professional earwax removal can be done safely and potentially lessen or eliminate the effects of tinnitus.
  4. Medication changes: Often, there are multiple medications that can be used to treat the same disease or disorder. If one medication is causing tinnitus, a healthcare professional may be able to prescribe an alternative medication in its place.
  5. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): If the cause of tinnitus cannot be cured, this type of therapy is useful in helping individuals live with their tinnitus and deal with it successfully. CBT involves meeting with a therapist regularly to learn methods of coping with the negative thought processes, depression, and annoyance that often accompany tinnitus.

Working with a hearing healthcare professional

While a medical doctor may be able to help determine whether tinnitus is stemming from a medical condition or medication usage, a hearing professional can work to identify underlying causes that may be related to the ear itself. A thorough evaluation by an audiologist is recommended for diagnosing and treating hearing loss, inner ear dysfunction, and earwax buildup that could be causing tinnitus.

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