If you’re experiencing a ringing in your ears in Phoenix and you can’t blame it on a persistent salesman who won’t leave your doorbell alone, you are experiencing tinnitus. Though it may be small comfort, you are not alone; tinnitus affects 50 million people in Arizona and throughout the U.S. Though there is no cure for tinnitus, strategies for managing it can help improve your quality of life.
Midwesterners bothered by a persistent ringing in their ears are all too familiar with tinnitus. This widespread condition affects about 50 million people across the United States; for some, it is nothing more than a minor nuisance, but for others, it’s a major impediment to their quality of life. Fortunately, you don’t have to suffer in silence (though silence is golden and would be welcome for most who experience tinnitus); there are steps you can take to relieve your symptoms.
Tinnitus: A Symptom, Not a Disease
One common misconception about tinnitus holds that it’s a medical condition. Actually, it is a symptom and not a disease itself. There are many potential causes of tinnitus, including:
- Hearing loss
- Meniere’s disease
- TMJ disorder
- Head/neck trauma
- Ototoxic medications
- Benign tumors
Tinnitus symptoms vary widely between individuals. For some, it is a constant distraction that interferes with many aspects of their daily lives. Others barely notice it. Regardless of where you land on the tinnitus spectrum, you will experience phantom noise to some degree. While it is usually described as a ringing in the ears, tinnitus may also present as a roaring, whooshing, hissing, buzzing, whistling, clicking or other sound. You may also suffer from stress, anxiety, poor sleep, lack of concentration and memory loss. As bothersome as these symptoms are, you do have options.
Tinnitus Management Strategies
Despite the lack of a cure, coping strategies are available to help you manage your symptoms and find relief from the ringing in your ears.
Many people in Phoenix use noise suppression techniques to cover up the sound of their tinnitus. Popular choices include:
- White noise devices. White noise machines and smartphone apps produce simulated environmental sounds (e.g., ocean waves or rain) to help distract your brain from the ringing in your ears. You can achieve the same effect by running a fan, air conditioner or humidifier.
- Hearing aids. Many people with tinnitus also suffer from hearing loss. Turning up the volume can help drown out tinnitus – and also helps you hear better!
- Masking devices. Like hearing aids, these are worn in the ear. They produce low-level white noise to help mask tinnitus.
- Tinnitus retraining devices. These wearable devices rely on patterned musical tones to mask tinnitus sounds. They help retrain your brain to ignore the ringing in your ears over time.
Other treatment options to consider include counseling, medications, relaxation exercises, lifestyle modifications and natural remedies. Your Phoenix audiologist can provide you with more information on treating your tinnitus symptoms.