Tinnitus is a common condition that affects millions of people. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that 15 percent of the population suffers from some form of tinnitus. That’s over 50 million Americans! While tinnitus is most often described as a ringing in the ears, it can take the form of a perceived clicking, buzzing, hissing, whistling, or swooshing sound when no actual noise is present.
Many different factors can cause tinnitus, although in some cases, the exact cause of the condition may not be known. Certain causes of tinnitus, however, can be prevented to lower your risk of tinnitus. Here are a few simple ways you can lower your risk of tinnitus:
Hundreds of medications are known to trigger or exacerbate tinnitus. These range from everyday aspirin to high-dose antibiotics to antidepressants. In most cases, the particular medication, your dosage, and any underlying medical conditions may increase your risk of tinnitus.
If you believe that your medication may be causing or worsening tinnitus, be sure to speak with your doctor. (Do not stop taking any medication without consulting a medical professional.) Your doctor may be able to switch your medication or change your dosage to help prevent tinnitus.
Although hearing loss on its own does not cause tinnitus, the cochlear hair cell damage caused by excessive noise can lead to both hearing loss and tinnitus. Whether you are exposed to very loud noises for short periods (like gunshots or explosions) or moderate noises over a prolonged period of time (like lawnmowers, power tools, or hairdryers), either can lead to inner ear damage.
To protect your hearing and lower your risk of tinnitus, be sure to wear ear protection when exposed to a noisy environment. Wearing earplugs is a simple yet effective way to protect your ears from damage.
Certain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients are essential to ear health. These include vitamins A, C, and E, as well as magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to getting more of these good things into your lifestyle, be sure to cut out bad habits like smoking, and limit your consumption of alcohol, sugar, and MSG.
It can also be helpful to maintain an active lifestyle. Even a five-minute daily walk can boost circulation, including to your ears, and can improve your overall health. Inactivity and toxic substances can damage your ears and increase your risk of tinnitus.
Think back to when your tinnitus began. Was it during a time of increased stress? Stress can be one of the causes of tinnitus. Try daily coping mechanisms to manage your stress levels, such as mindful breathing techniques. You can also ask your doctor for additional ways to cope with chronic stress.
For many people, there is a direct connection between fatigue and tinnitus. If your tinnitus worsens at night, this is likely the case. In fact, some people experience tinnitus only when they are not getting enough rest. For both your hearing health and overall health, try to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
If you suffer from insomnia, talk to your doctor about natural ways to treat it. (Some sleeping pills can be toxic to the ears, so do not take any without consulting your doctor first.)
With these simple steps, you can help to lower your risk of tinnitus and protect your hearing health. To learn more about how you can prevent tinnitus and other hearing problems, we encourage you to contact our hearing professionals today.