Let’s set the stage: you’re lying in bed at night trying to unwind after a long, tiring day. Your eyelids are getting heavy and you know that sleep is right around the corner. Then you hear it: a buzzing sound inside your ears. You know it’s nothing in your room because the TV, radio, and phone are all off. No, this sound is coming from within your ears and you don’t know how to stop it.
If this scenario has happened to you, then it’s likely that you’re one of the 50 million people that have tinnitus. This condition makes you hear buzzing, whooshing, and ringing sounds, among others, in your ears. For most people, tinnitus will not have a significant impact on their lives beyond being a simple irritation. But this is not the case with everyone who has tinnitus. For some, it can cause them to lose sleep, to disengage socially, and to have a hard time working.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus remains somewhat of a mystery, but specialists have narrowed down a few triggers for this problem. It’s most common in individuals who have damaged hearing, and also individuals who suffer from heart conditions. It’s believed that tinnitus comes about due to restricted blood flow around the ears, which makes the heart pump blood harder so that it can get where it needs to go. People who have iron-deficiency anemia frequently suffer from tinnitus symptoms since their blood cells don’t carry enough oxygen throughout their body, which, again, works the heart harder to deliver nutrients to the right place, often leading to tinnitus.
Tinnitus also happens as a symptom of other conditions, such as ear infections, canal blockages, and Meniere’s disease. All of these ailments impact the hearing and result in situations where tinnitus becomes more prevalent. Sometimes treatment can be challenging when the cause of tinnitus isn’t easily discernible, but that doesn’t mean treatment isn’t possible.
How Can Tinnitus be Treated?
Depending on the underlying cause of your tinnitus, there may be a number of possible treatment options. One relevant thing to take note of, however, is that there is currently no known cure for tinnitus. But these treatments can still offer a good chance for your tinnitus to improve or disappear completely.
Studies have shown that hearing aids help mask tinnitus in individuals who have hearing loss.
If covering up the noise doesn’t help, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been proven to help people deal with the ringing in their ears that does not go away with other treatments. This kind of mental health therapy helps people change their negative feelings about tinnitus into more positive, realistic thoughts that will help them function normally on a day to day basis.