Can you tell me how I can get relief from the ringing in my ears?
Wendy Schreuder has been a clinical audiologist for 25 years and has practiced in both private clinical settings as well as clinical/hospital settings. Her experience includes Pediatric Audiology, hearing aids, infant hearing screening programs and graduate level clinical supervision. Wendy believes that the ability to communicate often hinges on one’s ability to hear well. Having a baseline hearing evaluation allows your hearing healthcare professional to assess changes that can gradually make communication more difficult.
Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, can be annoying at best. Tinnitus is classified as noises in the ear or ears that can sound like ringing, roaring, buzzing, clicking, whooshing, crickets and wind or pulsating beats. Generally it is thought of as a symptom of another condition, but tinnitus can also occur for no apparent reason. There are certain conditions that can make it louder than normal or cause it to start seemingly out of the blue. Some common causes are noise exposure, stress, some medications, and hypertension. There are many other causes that can trigger tinnitus, but let’s focus on what to do about it.
When talking about tinnitus to my patients, I discuss when it seems to be loudest, what, if any, medications they are taking, noise exposure and hearing loss, and caffeine or alcohol consumption with increased tinnitus. I have tinnitus, and I’ve had it as long as I can remember. When I was a young child, I noticed we had crickets in our house, at school and in all my friends’ houses. It wasn’t until I was much older that I knew what it was. As I got older (and more stressed), the tinnitus got louder in one ear. I am now aware that my biggest triggers for increased tinnitus are caffeine consumption and stress. There seems to be a direct correlation between my coffee habit, the amount of stress I feel in a day and how loud my tinnitus is. What I have found is drinking less caffeine and practicing relaxation techniques quiets my ringing considerably. I know that it is going to be there and that I can control it if needed.
There have been “cures” advertised in the media that may have little to no effect on tinnitus. According to a specialist I consulted with, there are no medical studies that show these over the counter cures are effective. I recommend considering relaxation techniques, watching caffeine intake, and in extreme cases, there are tinnitus retraining therapies that may be helpful. Tinnitus masking devices are also effective for some. These resemble hearing aids and add sounds into the ears that “distract” the brain enough that they mask over the tinnitus. An Audiologist who has some experience with these devices would be a good resource.