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Tinnitus or Ringing in the Ears: Here are 6 Ways to Reduce It

Woman with tinnitus has a ringing in her ears.

If you've got tinnitus or ringing in your ears, it can severely affect your quality of life. Holding conversations with people becomes more difficult, you can struggle to get to sleep and it can make you feel isolated from those around you. The good news, however, is that there are a variety of techniques you can use to reduce it, including the ones below: 

Buy a new hearing aid

Researchers aren't entirely sure what causes tinnitus, but many believe that it has something to do with a lack of stimulation of the brain's sound-processing center. The mind, they argue, needs a continual supply of sound to make use of its auditory processing capacity. If it doesn't get it, it'll start generating its own in the form of tinnitus – not something you want. 

Hearing aids, therefore, can help enormously. By amplifying incoming sounds, hearing aids provide more stimulation to the brain and can in many cases, reduce tinnitus. 

Some hearing aids also come with special tinnitus settings that aim to mask the self-generated noises encountered in tinnitus. The feature emits a type of white noise specially calibrated to cancel out the sounds generated by the brain or ear. At the very least, these sounds provide a welcome distraction. Many people who have tinnitus prefer the sound of white noise than the ringing, buzzing or whirring sounds generated by their condition. 

If you suffer from hearing loss, hearing aids are a vital piece of equipment to help manage your condition and prevent your hearing from further deteriorating. 

Use behavioral techniques

Behavioral techniques don't attack the tinnitus directly. Instead, they help a patient better manage their condition. Tinnitus can cause a high degree of stress and anxiety for people who suffer from it. In some cases, it can lead to depression and other severe mental health issues. 

Behavioral techniques, like cognitive behavioral therapy, try to change the way that the person perceives their tinnitus. Instead of seeing it as a threat or imposition, CBT lets a person come to terms with the tinnitus and accept it as part of their life.

Tinnitus retraining therapy

Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) is also a form of treatment used in tandem with other methods. This therapy teaches you how to process the sounds you are hearing and essentially “ignore” them. This can be a successful way of coping with the sounds during times other options may not be available, such as during sleep or when showering.  

Use mindfulness and stress reduction

Doctors originally began experimenting with mindfulness to help people deal with chronic pain. The idea was to redirect cognitive processes to interact with pain more healthily. Since then, however, it's been repurposed for coping with tinnitus, a condition that can have a profoundly negative impact on the patient's happiness. 

Most tinnitus-related mindfulness and stress reduction courses last about eight weeks. During the course, instructors teach you how to divert attention away from your tinnitus and onto other things that matter in your life. Mindfulness also teaches you how to view the symptoms of tinnitus less negatively, improving your overall outlook on life. 

Use customized sound machines

Sound machines work in a similar way to the tinnitus features on some assistive hearing devices. They emit a regular sound which aims to mask or cover up the noise generated endogenously by the ear. 

Most sound machines are only worn intermittently. The user puts them on for a short period and then experiments with the sounds until they stumble upon one that appears to provide relief. 

Research suggests that people who use customized or modified sound machines experience a decline in the overall severity of their condition. A 2017 paper in the Annals of Ontology, Rhinology and Laryngology found that sound devices reduced the perceived volume of tinnitus and worked better than many generic-noise alternatives. 

Use external sound masking devices

Finally, tinnitus sufferers can buy external sound masking devices which sit on their tables and play a variety of noises. These sounds include white noise, "pink noise," music or sounds from nature. People often find that they experience tinnitus relief when listening to sounds that are marginally louder than their tinnitus symptoms. 

Do you think that you may have tinnitus? Would you like extra help managing your condition? If so, you can learn more about it from Audiology Clinics of Puerto Rico. Call our Aguadilla office on 787-882-8585 or Mayaguez office on 787-834-0660.