Can you imagine hearing a car alarm go off in your ears 24/7? That’s kind of what it’s like when you’re living with tinnitus. The constant ringing and buzzing in your ears can have a huge impact on your quality of life. The ringing might sound high-pitched or low-pitched. For some, it can sound soft, and for others, really loud. It might also occur in one ear but not the other.

This ringing sensation is known as tinnitus and it’s an indicator that something is wrong with your auditory system.

Fortunately, if you do suffer from tinnitus, there are tons of ways to help get rid of it.

woman suffering from ringing in her ears

1. Hearing Aids

Tinnitus is often a symptom of hearing loss. When hearing loss occurs, the brain makes changes to try to process sound frequencies better and in the process, it can result in ringing in the ears. Fortunately, getting rid of tinnitus when it’s a result of hearing loss is easy with hearing aids. Hearing aids are small devices that use a microphone, amplifier, and speaker to increase the volume of sounds you hear. This can cancel out the ringing noise you hear. A study from 2007 found that approximately 60 percent of people who have tinnitus find relief from wearing a hearing aid. 22% found significant improvement.

2. Sound Machines or White Noise

One way to get rid of tinnitus is to mask it with other noises. For instance, if you find the tinnitus distracting during work, you can mask the noise by listening to music or by using a sound-masking device. These devices are either speakers or machines you can use headphones with. The machine plays pink noise, white noise, music, or other sounds to drown out the ringing.

If the tinnitus is most bothersome when you’re trying to sleep, turning on a fan is a good white noise option. There are also apps and sound playlists you can listen to on your phone.

3. Behavioral Therapy

Tinnitus can also be a direct result of high emotional stress. Anxiety, depression, and insomnia are all common in people with tinnitus. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that teaches people how to live with their conditions. In the case of tinnitus, the therapy teaches someone how to live with and accept their tinnitus instead of finding a way to get rid of it. Therapy is usually once a week and involves identifying and changing the negative thought patterns that occur. CBT can help reduce the irritation and annoyance that those experience with tinnitus.

4. Antianxiety Drugs and Antidepressants

Treating your tinnitus might involve a combination of different approaches. Part of your treatment might include medication to help you cope with the annoying aspect of tinnitus. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can make the symptoms of tinnitus feel less annoying, improve insomnia, and quality of life. Talk to your doctor to learn if medications are the right treatment choice for you.

5. Exercise

When tinnitus is aggravated by stress, anxiety, depression, illness, or lack of sleep, regular exercise can help. By exercising regularly, it improves your overall health. You will start sleeping better, your immune system improves, and it helps with anxiety and depression. By improving these other conditions with regular exercise, tinnitus can also improve. Try to get 150 minutes of moderate activity per week to experience the health benefits of exercise.

6. Treating Obstructions

Tinnitus is directly related to the auditory system and in most cases is from irritation from blockages like an earwax blockage. If a foreign object lodges against the eardrum, it can also cause tinnitus. To rule out obstructions as a cause of tinnitus, we recommend visiting an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) Specialist. They will perform an exam to see if there’s anything obstructing the ear canal. If so, they will carefully remove it.

7. Holistic Treatments

If you’re searching for a more holistic approach to treating tinnitus, there are a few options available that might help. These can include nutritional supplements such as taking the herb ginkgo biloba, or a combination of vitamins and herbs such as zinc, vitamin B-12, and ginkgo. Homeopathic remedies, hypnosis, and acupuncture can also help. Please note that none of these have any evidence or studies to back up their effectiveness.

8. TMJ Treatment

The last reason you might have tinnitus is actually that you suffer from a TMJ disorder. The temporomandibular joints are the joints that act as hinges for your jaw. They connect the jaw to the skull and allow your jaw to move in a full range of motion. When you have a TMJ disorder, the temporomandibular joints have an imbalance that causes the ball inside the joint to pop in and out. It’s usually accompanied by painful symptoms including jaw, back, and neck pain, frequent headaches, and worn teeth.

TMJ disorders often cause tinnitus due to the location of the joint—right next to the ears. When the muscles, nerves, and tissues next to the joint experience strain, it can expand the irritation to the auditory system. As a result ear pain, clogged ears, and tinnitus can occur.

With TMJ treatment, the irritation in the auditory system can go away along with tinnitus and the other painful symptoms of TMD.

If you think you might have a TMJ disorder, our Columbia, SC TMJ dentist can help. Please contact Smile Columbia at (803) 781-9090 to book a consultation today.