5 Ways to Lower your Risk of Tinnitus

Do you struggle with a ringing noise in your ears? Tinnitus is the sensation of hearing a sound when there is actually no external sound present. It affects millions of people across the globe, and can range from being temporary or constant, mild, severe, gradual or sudden. While for some people it can be an occasionally irritating sound, for others, tinnitus can be debilitating and interfere with your ability to sleep, concentrate or hear external sound.

Tinnitus symptoms

Some of the common types of perceived noises caused by tinnitus include:

  • Ringing
  • Humming
  • Buzzing
  • Clicking
  • Hissing
  • Roaring

Tinnitus itself isn’t a condition – it can be a symptom of an ear injury, hearing loss or a circulatory system disorder. For many people, tinnitus treatment can improve their symptoms.

Common causes of tinnitus

Age-related hearing loss

If you have wondered how age affects tinnitus symptoms, then it is generally as a result of the number of functioning sensory nerve cells/hair cells in your ears decreasing as you get older. This causes hearing problems which in turn can trigger tinnitus symptoms.

Exposure to loud noise

Loud noises are common sources of noise-induced hearing loss. Tinnitus symptoms caused by short-term exposure generally go away, but long-term exposure to loud noise can cause permanent damage to the ear and lead to tinnitus.

Earwax blockage

While earwax is important for protecting your ear canal, a blockage caused by earwax can create pressure against the ear drum, which is painful.

Ear bone changes

If you have otosclerosis – a calcification of the joints of the small chain of the ear bones – then this can cause the bones in your middle ear to stiffen which can affect hearing and in turn, trigger tinnitus.

Five ways to lower your risk of tinnitus

1. Use hearing protection

Over time, prolonged exposure to loud sounds can damage the nerves in your ears which can cause hearing loss and tinnitus. If you work in an industry that uses loud machinery, firearms or chainsaws, you should always wear soft foam earplugs or earmuff-style hearing protection.

2. Be mindful of your medicines

If you are taking any prescribed medication, it’s worth knowing that there are many medications that can trigger or worsen existing tinnitus. It’s a good idea to review your medications with your doctor to check if you are taking anything that could cause tinnitus. It may be possible for you to reduce your dosage or switch to a different drug.  Make sure you only stop taking your medication under your doctor’s guidance.

3. Take care of your health

When you look after your overall health, your ears are less likely to be affected by noise or medications. Get plenty of regular exercise, eat a healthy diet and make sure you are getting plenty of vitamins. Magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and fish oil supplements and vitamins A, C and E all contribute to keeping you healthy, including your ears. It’s also important to limit your sugar and alcohol intake and quit smoking.

4. Sleep well

Tinnitus can sound louder at night because the quieter environment makes the noise much more noticeable and irritating. It’s important therefore that you make sure you get enough rest. Your body (and your ears) function best when you get seven or eight hours of sleep each night. If you struggle to sleep and often experience insomnia, talk to your doctor about the natural ways to treat it. This could be by drinking herbal tea before you go to bed and having a relaxing bedtime routine.

5. Reduce your stress

Did you notice that your tinnitus started when you were feeling exceptionally stressed? It’s quite common for tinnitus to begin during a stressful time. It’s important that you try to de-stress whenever possible by taking a few minutes to focus on your breathing and relax during your day. If you suffer with chronic stress, then talk to your doctor about appropriate coping methods and stress reduction techniques. You may find that when you relax, your symptoms improve or disappear completely.

Tinnitus treatments

If you think you may be experiencing tinnitus symptoms then you should visit your doctor or licensed hearing care professional. They will perform a thorough assessment to help you determine the best tinnitus treatment. This could include:

  • Hearing aids
  • Sound therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

While tinnitus isn’t always the result of something you can easily prevent, by taking certain precautions you can help yourself avoid certain kinds of tinnitus from starting.

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