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.
How to get relief from tinnitus
Tackling Tinnitus columnnist Glenn Schweitzer--a tinnitus sufferer himself--even makes the strong case that tinnitus could be framed as an acute auditory stress disorder.
If you're wondering how to get relief from tinnitus, the following recommendations can help.
If you have frequent tinnitus, habituating is an important skill to learn. Some tinnitus sufferers say that learning to habituate tinnitus, or ignore it, is one of the best ways to find relief.
How you learn to habituate can vary, but it's all about breaking the stress cycle that occurs when you experience a flare-up in tinnitus.
Here's more information on how to tune out the ringing in your ears.
Relaxation and meditation
Relaxation is important in two ways: First, it helps ward off tinnitus. For many people, stress is a trigger for their tinnitus, so learning some relaxation techniques can help prevent it before it starts. And when you do experience tinnitus, calming your body—and mind—is a vital tool to help keep it from affecting your entire life.
In some cases, all you need to do is briefly refocus your attention on something else to find relief from your tinnitus, which can often be achieved by regularly practicing meditation techniques. These techniques below are best learned when your tinnitus isn't active, but they're still worth trying even if you're in the middle of a tinnitus spike.
Autogenic relaxation is a self-hypnosis technique that can be very helpful at calming the mind.
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 when 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.
Lifestyle and home remedies for tinnitus
Wear hearing protection
If you're working around loud machinery, going hunting or dancing near speakers at a live concert, don't forget to wear foam earplugs or earmuffs so your tinnitus doesn't get worse. Noise exposure can trigger tinnitus for some people. It also damages your hearing, which in turn can make tinnitus more intense.
Exercise is a key way to manage stress, and is good for both your brain and body. If your tinnitus is related to high blood pressure, increasing your activity level can help get your blood pressure under better control and reduce tinnitus. Just be careful if you go to a gym with loud music.
Yoga is a great exercise for tinnitus sufferers because it incorporates meditative breathing and relaxation techniques along with a healthy workout.
Evaluate your diet
For some people, their tinnitus is helped by reducing the amount of salt they consume and incorporating healthy eating habits, including a hearing-friendly diet full of these vitamins and minerals and low on caffeine. For people who have Meniere's disease—which causes hearing loss, tinnitus and dizziness—lowering salt may be especially helpful.
Talk to someone
Tinnitus can impact your mental health and your relationships. Many people find cognitive-behavioral therapy useful for managing the emotional impact of tinnitus. A review published in the Journal of the American Academy of Audiology found that “CBT treatment for tinnitus management is the most evidence-based treatment option so far.”
If your tinnitus feels overwhelming
For some people, tinnitus can have a big impact on their mental health, leading to suicidal thoughts. If you are finding yourself in this position, our article on suicide and tinnitus offers tips to help you through the immediate crisis.
Medical treatments for tinnitus
If you've tried the recommendations above and are still struggling with tinnitus, our page on tinnitus diagnosis and treatment provides guidance on what it's like to see a medical or hearing care professional for persistent or severe tinnitus. It also goes over masking devices and behavioral and sound therapy options.
Hearing aids for tinnitus
Many people find relief from simply getting a pair of hearing aids, especially if hearing loss is a contributing factor. Find out more about hearing aids for tinnitus, and why they can be so helpful.
If you're a veteran
Tinnitus is extremely common among veterans and the VA has many programs to help.
Get relief from tinnitus
If you are experiencing ringing in your ears it is important to get a thorough hearing evaluation from a hearing care professional. Find an audiologist that specializes in tinnitus treatment near you by visiting our directory of hearing care providers. Please note that not all hearing clinics treat tinnitus, so you may need to browse several clinic pages to find the right provider.