By Pauline Dinnauer, AuD
Tinnitus is characterized by ringing in the ears and is a relatively common condition in those with hearing loss.
Experts estimate that anywhere between 8% to 25% of the population suffers from hearing loss. While tinnitus is relatively common, there still isn’t a cure for it, and those suffering from it are forced to find other ways to suppress tinnitus.
Here are a few factors that can worsen your tinnitus and how to avoid these situations.
1) Excessive Noise
Even if you don’t suffer from ongoing tinnitus, you may have experienced ringing in your ears following loud noises. Therefore, it’s no surprise that people who already suffer from tinnitus will be affected more by loud noises.
Depending on the noise level, you may experience an instant increase in tinnitus symptoms immediately following a loud sound such as a gunshot, or your tinnitus may simply be more prominent in the presence of increased noise such as a construction zone.
To avoid this, carry earplugs in your purse or wallet whenever you leave the house and avoid loud situations.
Alcohol can also worsen tinnitus as it increases blood flow to your inner ear. If you only have an occasional glass of alcohol, it will resolve in a few hours. However, if you drink heavily, you may develop permanent tinnitus. If you already experience tinnitus, avoid alcohol and instead opt for a different drink like carbonated water.
Many alcoholics eventually develop tinnitus, so if you struggle with addiction, seek help immediately.
3) Sleep Deprivation
Falling asleep can be difficult with tinnitus, though sleep deprivation will worsen your tinnitus. This hypothesis was confirmed by Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit when they saw a clear correlation between lack of sleep and tinnitus levels in 117 patients.
If you experience sleep deprivation, consider working out in the evening and avoid eating sugary foods late in the day. White noise is also a great way to reduce tinnitus effects and help you fall asleep faster.
4) Ear Infection
Middle and outer ear infections are also common causes of tinnitus, and while some are mild, others can be severe and lead to permanent tinnitus. If you think you have an ear infection, it’s important to treat it immediately to reduce the effects of tinnitus. In many cases, simple ear drops are sufficient treatment for ear infections.
5) Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety can also worsen tinnitus and even cause temporary tinnitus in people who don’t have permanent tinnitus.
This is particularly common for people who recently discovered they have tinnitus and are stressed about their situation. The best way to handle stress during tinnitus is to get plenty of rest, exercise, and eat healthy foods.
Hope For Permanent Tinnitus
While tinnitus may not have a single cure, researchers are actively working on the problem, and hopefully, we will have a cure for it soon. Until then, hearing aids and a healthy lifestyle can help to reduce the effects of tinnitus. Speak with an audiologist to learn how you can improve your tinnitus symptoms and overall life quality today.
About the Author: Pauline Dinnauer is the VP of Audiological Care at Connect Hearing, which provides hearing loss, hearing testing, and hearing aid consultation across the United States.