Tips for Managing Tinnitus

Jesse Western

If you are among the 50 million Americans who have experienced tinnitus, you will be familiar with the mental toll it can take. A constant ringing, whirring, hissing, buzzing, or whooshing sound can be enough to induce anxiety, frustration, or even depression. Serious cases demanding medical intervention number between 14 and 16 million, and there are solutions you might not have expected. 

Folk wisdom has told us some tricks to mask tinnitus or help us cope with the condition, but doctors and researchers have also discovered some unexpected connections between tinnitus and other aspects of our lifestyles. Let’s consider some of the things you can do to prevent or alleviate tinnitus, knowing that the best solution is to protect your hearing so that you never have to deal with it in the first place. 

Seek Medical Care

If you have persistent tinnitus and feel it bogging you down, it is worth mentioning to your health care provider. Some health conditions can exacerbate or even bring on tinnitus, so you should be sure to cover your bases from a health perspective before seeking other solutions. Some drugs, herbs, and chemicals can trigger tinnitus or make it worse. 

If you are taking prescription medications, it is worth taking a look at the possible side effects to make sure that tinnitus is not listed among the negative results. If you begin with your primary care provider, they can recommend the right specialist for further investigation. After talking to your doctor, it might be useful to schedule an appointment with us for a professional hearing test.  

Sound Masking

One of the most effective strategies to deal with tinnitus has been to create a broad-spectrum sound “mask” to cancel out the effect of the tinnitus pitches. Anyone with tinnitus will be familiar with the experience of hearing it particularly loudly in a quiet place, such as in bed before falling asleep. 

On the other hand, tinnitus tends to feel like it has disappeared while taking part in a louder activity, such as riding in a car or taking public transportation. If you extend this principle to your home life, some sounds can be used to mask the experience of tinnitus. White noise machines are available for purchase, and some people prefer the gentle sounds of nature to cover the tinnitus ringing. 

Others find that a box fan will work when the weather allows. Perhaps the most common response to tinnitus is to turn on the television at a low volume and learn to fall asleep with that background sound, emitting a relatively broad spectrum of frequencies to break up the constancy of the tinnitus ringing. 

Healthy Lifestyles

Lifestyles that are low in stress have been shown to reduce the negative effect of tinnitus or at least to alleviate the mental toll. The stress and frustration that many experience with tinnitus can be dealt with through mindfulness practices, such as meditation. 

Another aspect of a healthy lifestyle that some have explored is the connection with diet. A Mediterranean diet may be effective in reducing tinnitus or preventing future flare ups, and of course the health benefits of this nutritional plan extend far beyond hearing and tinnitus reduction. Certain substances have been linked to tinnitus, including red wine, cheese, chocolate, and caffeine, but the relationship is inconclusive. 

Another report found that drinking coffee was actually associated with tinnitus reduction for women between the ages of 20 and 50 who had three to four cups of coffee per day. With these mixed results, a generally healthy diet that emphasizes whole grains, fruits, and vegetables is the best way to promote health. 

Seek Professional Treatment

A visit to a licensed hearing health professional is the best way to deal with tinnitus, and treatment options are being developed all the time. The latest hearing aids are able to emit a tone that can in effect cancel out the sound of tinnitus, so you can inquire with your provider about whether or not that type of hearing aid is appropriate for you. Beginning with a hearing assessment is the right step in the direction of treatment. Contact us today to learn more!