Tinnitus is a condition — which can be either temporary or permanent — where a person “hears” sound that is not actually occurring outside of their body. There is a perception of sound input — with no corresponding external sound source.
There are many different noises that tinnitus sufferers “hear,” though it’s oftentimes described as a “ringing in the ears” for a reason. A high-pitched humming is a common tinnitus effect. But any number of buzzes, whistles, hisses, clicks — and even music — has been reported.
It’s a surprisingly common condition. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that approximately 15 percent of Americans experience some form of tinnitus.
There is no cure as of yet for this condition. A number of management strategies are available and hearing professionals can aid anyone who is suffering from tinnitus. Also, the American Tinnitus Association is a go-to source for information and is an organization that supports further study.
Ways to treat tinnitus include:
- Staying tranquil — including consciously slowing down breathing and doing relaxation exercises — can help. Learning how to ignore it is part of this process.
- This may seem at odds with staying tranquil, but avoiding silence is helpful. The “sound” being heard is more noticeable without any other background noise to process.
- If you are in a truly loud noise environment then use hearing protection. Further damage to the ears will not help. But don’t wear earplugs regularly, since this will only make the situation more noticeable.
- Staying healthy and active will beneficial. Doing things will keep your mind occupied and not allow a fixation on the constant sound to develop.
- Be on the lookout for anything that makes the tinnitus worse. Some people find that certain foods, drinks, or activities make the situation noticeably worse.