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:
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:
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:
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Guided imagery
For methods usually done in silence, such as meditation, a quiet background noise may help mask tinnitus symptoms and improve your concentration.
- 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.
- Lower stress
- Improve your sleep
- Fight depression
If you're just getting started, ask your doctor or a fitness expert for guidance and start slowly. Walking is a great way to begin.
Join a support group. Talking with other people with the same condition can help you feel less alone. You'll also learn different approaches for coping with tinnitus.
Protect your hearing. Loud noise is a common cause of tinnitus. It can also make your symptoms worse for a short time.
Here are some ways to protect yourself from our noisy world:
- Keep music at 60% of full volume or lower when using earbuds. Don't listen for more than 60 minutes at one time.
- Wear ear plugs at concerts, loud restaurants, or other loud events. If you can't hear someone standing an arm's length away, it's loud enough to cause hearing damage and make tinnitus worse.
- Use ear plugs or earmuffs when cutting the grass, using power tools, or using snow or leaf blowers.
- Always use ear protection in a noisy workplace.
Treat other health problems. Tinnitus can be a side effect of some illnesses. Staying up to date on treatments may ease the ringing in your ears.
Ask your doctor whether any of these conditions might be a cause of the ringing in your ears:
Also talk with your doctor about the medicines you take. Some can cause tinnitus as a side effect.
Get used to tinnitus. It may seem hard to believe, but learning to ignore your tinnitus can help you cope with it.
Follow these suggestions:
- Try not to notice the ringing or buzzing.
- Keep yourself distracted with work and favorite activities.
- Learn which coping techniques work for you and practice them regularly.
Over time, you may find that you get used to tinnitus, and the sounds in your head no longer bother you.