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Living With Tinnitus

Changes to your daily life and surroundings may make it easier to live with tinnitus -- the ringing, hissing, or buzzing sounds in your ears that other people don't hear. These approaches should be used along with any treatments or hearing aids suggested by your doctor.

Strategies that may help include:

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Learn what makes tinnitus worse for you. Some people report that certain foods, drinks, or drugs can make their symptoms worse. Not everyone is affected the same way, so try to avoid triggers one at a time and keep a written log.

You may not need to avoid every possible trigger. Instead, notice which things affect your symptoms.

Some possible triggers include:

  • Drinks with caffeine such as cola, coffee, tea, and energy drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Aspirin
  • Salt

Kick the habit, if you smoke. Smoking can make tinnitus worse in two ways. It harms blood flow to the sensitive nerve cells that control your hearing. It also acts as a stimulant in your body. This can make the ringing in your ears sound louder.

Add soothing sounds to silence. Tinnitus may bother you more when it's quiet. So try these tips to distract yourself from the ringing in your ears:

  • Play soft music in the background
  • Listen to the radio
  • Turn on a fan

You can also try a white-noise machine. These devices create the sounds of ocean waves, rainfall, or a running stream.

Plan time to relax every day. It's normal to feel anxious and annoyed when you first develop tinnitus or when it flares up. But stress and worry can make your symptoms worse.

Try different ways to relax until you find what works best for you. Even 15 minutes of deep relaxation can ease stress and improve your mood.

Try these relaxation methods:

  • Yoga
  • Tai-chi
  • Meditation
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Guided imagery
  • Self-hypnosis

For methods usually done in silence, such as meditation, a quiet background noise may help mask tinnitus symptoms and improve your concentration.

Get enough sleep. Fatigue often makes symptoms worse, turning a soft hum into a loud roar. If tinnitus keeps you from sleeping well, this can become a vicious cycle.

Practice good sleep habits for more restful sleep:

  • Make your bedroom dark and cool.
  • Use a fan or white-noise machine if your bedroom is too quiet.
  • Set aside 7 to 9 hours for sleep at night.
  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
  • Develop a bedtime routine, such as taking a relaxing warm bath right before bedtime.
  • Make sure your bed and pillows are comfortable and supportive.
  • Avoid exercise, food, and alcohol 2 to 3 hours before going to sleep.

Exercise at least three to five times a week. Exercise eases many problems that seem to go along with tinnitus. It's a mood booster for just about everyone.

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