Tinnitus is a condition that will affect over 90% of the general population at some point in their lives. In Canada alone, it is estimated that nearly 10 million adults will experience some form of tinnitus this year. Although most of these cases will be mild forms of tinnitus, individuals with hearing loss are more likely to experience it more often and with higher intensity.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a common condition characterized by the ringing, buzzing, or humming sounds that many of us get in our ears.
Tinnitus is simply your brain’s way of responding to less stimulation than it has been used to hearing. Over time as we age or when we are exposed to loud noise, the tiny hair cells that have been worn down inside your inner ear can’t pick up and send as much sound information to the brain’s listening cells as they used to.
1. Hearing Evaluation
One of the earliest, most common indicators of hearing loss is a greater prevalence or intensity of tinnitus. If you frequently experience ringing, buzzing, humming, or any other form of hearing discomfort, we recommend having your hearing examined.
Hearing loss is often gradual, so you don’t necessarily know what you’re missing. Tinnitus usually comes with more significant hearing loss. If you find that you may be experiencing tinnitus, ask your friends and family if they notice that you are missing things, mistaking words or conversations or asking them to repeat. Something as easy as asking your friends and family about your hearing can do so much towards detecting early hearing loss and then preventing any more hearing loss.
2. Protect Your Ears From Noise
Tinnitus is a symptom of damage to the delicate inner-ear hairs that are integral in the auditory system. Further exposure to loud noises can further damage these hairs, leading to worsened tinnitus and impaired hearing. Therefore, if you experience tinnitus, you should be extra careful to protect your ears from noise by wearing proper hearing protection. Be sure to wear hearing protection during activities where loud noises are present. A good rule of thumb to use is if you need to raise your voice to be heard over the sound, you should be using hearing protection such as Custom Earplugs.
Custom hearing protection such as custom earplugs may be an option to consider if your work or hobby involves loud, sustained noise. Custom earplugs offer a better, more personalized fit and, therefore, superior protection from the dangers of noise.
3. Monitor Your Diet
Depending on the person, certain items in your diet may be unknowingly making your tinnitus worse. Salt, Alcohol, and Caffeine have all been known as dietary elements that could be worsening your tinnitus. To test whether these may be negatively impacting your condition, we recommend two courses of action. The first is to monitor your intake of each substance by limiting your consumption for a week at a time. By observing how what you consume affects your tinnitus, you can then learn to avoid or limit the intake of certain substances. The second course of action is to ensure that you drink enough water to offset the adverse effects. For some items, such as caffeine, it might be challenging to cut back on your consumption. To counteract this, try adding a cup of hot water to dilute the caffeine’s adverse effects while still getting that jolt of energy that the coffee provides.
4. Manage Your Stress
Learn to manage your tinnitus by managing your stress. Do active behavioural techniques to reduce and help you handle your stress, such as massage, exercise, meditation, or whatever activity works for you. High levels of stress are known to cause an increased perception of tinnitus, which can settle down when you are more relaxed.
5. Monitor Your Sleep Habits
Nothing is better than a good night’s sleep. This common phrase rings especially true for your hearing health. How well and how much you sleep can significantly impact your overall perception of your tinnitus. The more consistent and deeper sleep you achieve, the less of an impact your tinnitus will have.
For many people, overcoming the distraction of tinnitus is especially tricky at bedtime when there are fewer sounds to distract your brain. With a lack of sound present, the brain responds to this lack of sound present with the ringing or buzzing that is known as tinnitus. To counter this, we recommend using some masking techniques to distract your brain from tinnitus. Simple techniques such as soft music with a pillow speaker, or even a fan at night to help drown out the tinnitus can work very effectively.
An excellent resource to visit is www.deafandhearalberta.ca to see equipment that you can purchase to help with sleeping with Tinnitus.
Please remember to continue to consult our website for more blogs and videos to help you take care of your hearing and your hearing aids. Our expert audiologists here at Audiology Innovations are passionate about changing people’s lives through our innovative hearing services, and we would love to help you next. Schedule an appointment today, or contact us for more information about our services.