Ringing in the Ears
What is ringing in the ears?
Ringing in the ears (called tinnitus) is a constant ringing or noise in the ears not caused by an outside source. Tinnitus is typically a symptom of another condition such as hearing loss, ear injury, or a circulatory system disorder.
What causes tinnitus?
There are several things that can cause tinnitus, including environmental noise, physical conditions, and drug use or abuse.
• Environmental Noise: construction machinery, lawn mowers, power tools, woodworking tools, loud concerts, guns and gunshots, explosions.
• Drugs: alcohol, antidepressants, anti-inflammatories, sedatives, caffeine, aspirin.
How can I avoid getting tinnitus?
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to protect yourself from tinnitus. If you think you might have tinnitus, consult your doctor.
• Wear Protective Ear Gear: Always wear protective ear (noise-cancelling) gear when using loud machinery. "Specialists think that exposure to noise louder than 110 decibels (the noise from a snowmobile is 120 decibels) for more than one minute will result in permanent hearing loss. Prolonged exposure to noise of 90 decibels (the sound of a lawn mower) will result in gradual hearing loss."*
• Examine Medications: Check your medications to make sure that tinnitus is not a possible side effect. If it is, check with your doctor about changing medications or lowering your dosage.
• Lessen Stressors: Extreme stress can lead people to develop tinnitus, so take the time to decompress and relax when you need to. Take a bath, get in some exercise, or read some of your favorite book.
• Turn Down the Music: Loud music in your headphones or in your car can cause gradual or permanent hearing loss.
• Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: At least one study has shown that patients who suffer from tinnitus get some relief from cognitive behavioral therapy. "Both cognitive behavioral therapy and tinnitus retraining therapy are effective for tinnitus, with neither therapy being demonstrably superior."**