Tinnitus relief

Contributed by Paul Dybala, PhD, president, Healthy Hearing
This content was last reviewed on: May 12th, 20172017-05-12 12:10:00

Tinnitus is an extremely bothersome condition. If formal treatment doesn't help, try to find relief with one of these strategies.

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For many people who experience tinnitus, a buzzing, hissing or ringing sound in the ears is something they experience all the time. This constant soundtrack is impossible to escape and it can make everyday activities and daily life more difficult. Sometimes tinnitus can be resolved through treatment of the underlying cause, but often the cause is unknown.

If treatment doesn't work for you, there are other strategies that can help you find relief from the constant sounds. 

Your physical wellbeing

Common causes of tinnitus include hearing loss, exposure to loud noise, poor diet, stress and high blood pressure. Since your overall health could be contributing to the ringing in your ears, you should take some extra measures to improve your overall wellness.

  • Have your hearing checked: Hearing loss and tinnitus often occur together. If you have hearing loss, wearing hearing aids may provide tinnitus relief.
  • Wear hearing protection: If you're working around loud machinery, going hunting or dancing near the speakers at a live concert, don't forget to wear foam earplugs or earmuffs so your tinnitus doesn't get worse.
  • high-end cappuccino in white mug
    Coffee is a treat, but decreasing caffeine
    can provide tinnitus relief.
    Exercise: There are many ways you can control your blood pressure without going to the doctor or taking medication. Increasing your activity level is one of the easiest and healthiest ways to do so. Consider a workout regimen that will help you to shed a few pounds around the waistline, which is a key factor in decreasing your risk of high blood pressure.
  • Dietary changes: Reduce the amount of sodium you consume and change your overall eating habits to include a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats. You should also limit your consumption of alcohol and tobacco products.
  • Reduce stress: Stress and anxiety can temporarily increase blood pressure and cause tinnitus. You can try to decrease your amount of stress by getting a massage, meditating or practicing deep-breathing exercises. Increasing your amount of physical activity in general will also decrease your stress. Consider taking a day off work to simply relax, go for a walk or enjoy time with family.
  • Decrease caffeine: Consuming too much coffee or soda regularly can not only increase your blood pressure, it can aggravate tinnitus. You can find relief of tinnitus by cutting out beverages with high levels of caffeine by replacing them with healthier beverages. Although tea has some caffeine, it also has healing properties to increase your overall health and still give you a slight boost of energy.

Keep track

Tinnitus comes in all shapes and sizes, so keeping track of when you are experiencing symptoms may help you find relief by just making small changes to your everyday lifestyle. Whenever you begin to experience tinnitus, write down what you were doing, what food you consumed, if you were exposed to any loud noises or if you are feeling a lot of pressure or stress. Once you've tracked it for awhile, you may be able to determine a few triggers of your tinnitus you can work to reduce or prevent.

Remember that tinnitus relief doesn't happen overnight – just as lowering your blood pressure or losing weight takes time – so be patient with your lifestyle changes and keep tracking as you try new things.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 if your tinnitus is leading to extreme feelings of depression, anxiety or suicide.

Forget about it

Some tinnitus suffers say that learning to habituate tinnitus, or ignore it, is one of the best ways to find relief. You can find things that you enjoy doing to occupy your time and help your mind forget about the ringing sensation in your ear. Whether you like to garden, paint or go hiking, these hobbies can take your mind off of the frustration and help you to refocus your concentration on something that makes you happy.

At times when your tinnitus is most bothersome, like when you're trying to fall asleep, you can use a sound generator to play white noise, ocean sounds or other environmental sounds to distract your brain from focusing on the unwanted sounds. Set the volume at a level that just barely covers your tinnitus and allows you to concentrate on the noise in the room instead of the noise in your head. 

Relaxation techniques

adults lying on floor of gym relaxing after fitness class
Reducing stress, exercise and relaxation
can help reduce tinnitus.

Sometimes you need to refocus your attention to something else in order to find relief from your tinnitus, which can often be achieved by regularly practicing relaxation techniques. By doing this, you can refocus your attention away from tinnitus and increase your awareness of you and your body. Yoga can be very beneficial for tinnitus because you are taught to pay attention to your breath and you learn to tune into what your body is "saying" to you.

Here are a few other ways to relax:

  • Autogenic relaxation: Think of a phrase or saying that relaxes your mind and helps you to imagine a peaceful place, and simply repeat it in your head. While doing this, try to sit in a comfortable position and slowly breathe in and out.
  • Visualization: Similar to autogenic relaxation, visualization helps to calm your body by thinking of a place that makes you feel at ease. For example, if you are thinking of a beach, don't simply imagine yourself sitting on a beach, but try to bring all of your senses into play. Think of the salty smell in the air, the warm humidity, the sound of the crashing waves, the feeling of the sand between your toes and the warmth of the sun on your skin.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation:  It is probably easiest to try progressive muscle relaxation while standing up, but you can also receive some benefits by sitting down. Start by tensing the muscles in your toes and feet for about five to 10 seconds. Then, slowly release these muscles for 30 seconds and do the same for the legs, hips, abdomen, lower back, shoulders, arms, hands, neck and jaw.

See a hearing care professional

Seeing a hearing healthcare professional who specializes in tinnitus diagnosis may help you uncover the causes and identify possible treatments for your tinnitus. Many people find relief from simply getting a pair of hearing aids. Regardless of the treatment prescribed for you, these tips for tinnitus relief may be useful as you deal with the unwanted sounds on a daily basis.

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