What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a consistent noise heard in the ear in the absence of an external source of sound. Some cases of tinnitus may come and go while others have a continuous sound. The sound can vary in pitch. For some people, a ringing in the ears sounds like a low roar, for others it might sound like a squeal or whine.
There’s no specific tinnitus treatment, however, your ENT physician may be able to find a cause for your condition. If the underlying reason for your condition is diagnosed, the ringing may be eliminated.
The diagnosis may require extensive testing including:
- Hearing tests
- Balance tests
- Blood work
- Imaging such as a brain MRI
Unfortunately, many cases of tinnitus have causes which cannot be identified. Occasionally some medicines can help decrease the noise. Several may be tried to see if they can help decrease the ringing in your ears.
How to Manage the Ringing in Your Ears
Whether you’re waiting for an answer from your ENT practitioner or adjusting to long-term tinnitus, managing your tinnitus is easier with these tips:
- Avoid exposure to loud noises and use hearing protection
- Changes in blood pressure may cause tinnitus; monitor your blood pressure to prevent a tinnitus episode
- Decrease salt intake
- Avoid stimulants such as coffee, tea, soda and tobacco
- Get adequate rest
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a balanced diet
Tips for Coping with Tinnitus
- Concentration and relaxation exercises can help control muscle groups and circulation throughout the body. The relaxation and circulation achieved by these exercises can reduce the intensity of tinnitus in some patients.
- Masking the ringing in your ears can provide some relief. As the ringing stands out more in quiet environments, such as when you’re trying to sleep, playing another sound such as a ticking clock, a white noise machine or a box fan at a constant low level can make the noise in your ears less noticeable.
- If you’re already a hearing aid user, they can be used to mask ringing sounds, emitting a pleasant, consistent noise. It’s important to keep your hearing aid at an optimum sound level. Hearing aids that are set to an excessively loud setting may worsen tinnitus.