Have you ever asked a friend ”What’s that ringing noise?” and been surprised when they have no idea what you’re talking about?
Tinnitus (pronounced ti-ni-tis), the medical term for ringing in the ears, is the sensation of hearing ringing, buzzing, hissing, chirping, whistling or other sounds that no one else can hear.
According to the American Tinnitus Association, “the U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that nearly 15% of the general public — over 50 million Americans — experience some form of tinnitus. Roughly 20 million people struggle with burdensome chronic tinnitus, while 2 million have extreme and debilitating cases.”
While science has yet to give us a cure for tinnitus, there are many things you can do to manage and minimize the symptoms. Keep reading to learn more about what triggers this odd health condition and the natural remedies that may be able to provide relief.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Do you attend a lot of concerts? Work in a loud factory setting? Use power tools without ear protection? This prolonged exposure to loud noises is the most common cause of tinnitus. ”The noise causes permanent damage to the sound-sensitive cells of the cochlea, a spiral-shaped organ in the inner ear,” explains WebMD. “A single exposure to a sudden extremely loud noise can also cause tinnitus.”
Other causes include blockages in the ear (like a buildup of wax), ear infections, some medications, head and neck injuries, and natural aging.
Learn Your Tinnitus Triggers
While loud noises may have caused the initial damage behind your tinnitus, certain aspects of your lifestyle could be making the ringing worse. These include:
- Tobacco use
- Caffeinated beverages
- Salty foods
Manage Tinnitus With Diet Lifestyle Changes
So what’s the best way to find relief from tinnitus so that it doesn’t ruin your productivity at work, make it difficult to have conversations and interrupt your sleep?
“Smoking can make tinnitus worse in two ways. It harms blood flow to the sensitive nerve cells that control your hearing. It also acts as a stimulant in your body. This can make the ringing in your ears sound louder,” explains WebMD. This could also explain why tinnitus often gets worse for people who consume a lot of caffeine.
Embrace White Noise
For those who suffer from mild to moderate tinnitus, the use of white noise, such as ambient music played at a low volume or an oscillating fan, can cover up the ringing or buzzing sounds.
Several controlled studies have shown acupuncture to improve tinnitus, such as this one from 2006. If you’re suffering from severe, sudden onset tinnitus, seeking out a qualified practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) could be an option for finding relief. Anecdotal evidence suggests that even in cases where acupuncture doesn’t eliminate tinnitus, the patient’s ability to cope with it seems to improve.
Related: How Does Acupuncture Work?
“It is well established that Gingko enhances blood flow to the periphery (edges of the body), in particular to the head and brain. If your tinnitus is due to circulatory problems, Gingko is likely to help,” explains Dr. Emily Kane.
It may be hard to relax when your ears are constantly ringing or whistling, but as mentioned previously, stress only makes it worse. Explore techniques that help you to remain centered and calm, such as massage, meditation, exercise and simply getting plenty of good quality sleep.
Do you suffer from tinnitus? Tell us about your favorite natural remedy in the comments!
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