Tinnitus a Symptom of Upcoming Serious Disease I Treatment for Ringing in Ear
- Tinnitus symptoms can include a ringing in the ear, clicking sounds, pulsing, or buzzing.
- Tinnitus can be a sign of an underlying condition.
- Tinnitus can be prevented and if you already have it you can treat it. Read on to find out how.
A frequent question is: “Is there treatment for ringing in ears?”. One in five people has tinnitus. In most cases tinnitus is annoying but harmless, however, it can be a sign of something more serious. In many cases, even though it is harmless, it can impact the quality of life since it can disrupt sleep and make it hard to concentrate.
In this article, I will be explaining what tinnitus is and how to treat it. I will also be looking at what causes it and how to prevent it.
What is Tinnitus
Tinnitus itself is not a condition but a symptom of some other issue in the body. People who struggle with tinnitus usually will experience a noise or even a ringing in their ears. There are different types of tinnitus depending on what the cause is. You may experience it in one ear or in both ears.
- Subjective tinnitus: This is when the sounds are only heard by the person experiencing tinnitus. The sound they hear usually comes from their ears or in their heads. This is the most common type of tinnitus and accounts for around 99% of cases.
- Objective tinnitus: This is when other people can also hear the sounds heard by the person suffering from tinnitus. These sounds come from inside the body, usually caused by the movement of the muscles or bones in the body or sometimes fluid circulation issues. This form is very rare.
It usually only occurs in people who are over the age of fifty, but more and more young people are getting it. Tinnitus, unfortunately, in many cases tends to get worse with age.
Symptoms of Tinnitus
- Constant high-pitched tone: This is the most common. This is usually a dull tone or a ringing in the ear that is constantly there.
- Buzzing: In some cases, there may be a buzzing sound in the ears.
- Hissing: For some people, tinnitus may manifest as a hissing sound in their ears.
- Humming: Some people hear a hum. This can be either high-pitched or low-pitched.
- Clicking: Clicking noises can be caused by the joints in the jaw and heard in the ears.
- Roaring: Some people hear a roaring sound.
- Throbbing: This is a rather serious sign. If you are experiencing a throbbing or pulsing in your ears, it is best to go to the doctor to get it checked out.
What Causes Tinnitus
There are quite a few causes of tinnitus though sometimes an exact cause cannot be found. But here are the top causes:
- Exposure to loud noises and loud music
- Hearing loss as a result of aging can cause tinnitus
- Changes in the bones of the ear
- Ear injuries
- Excess wax buildup
- Head or neck injuries
- Jaw joint problems (also known as TMJ)
- Problems with blood circulation
- Issues with the blood vessels
- Certain illnesses such atherosclerosis, Meniere’s disease, or high blood pressure
- Medication (aspirin, antibiotics, cancer medication, some antidepressants, and diuretics)
Other Ways that Tinnitus can Affect Someone
Tinnitus can be so disruptive that it can affect sleep quality, memory, and the ability to concentrate. There is also a relation between tinnitus and depression as well as anxiety. For those dealing with chronic tinnitus, feeling tired, stressed out, anxious, and irritable is common. During times of lots of stress or pressure, tinnitus can become even worse.
Treatment for Tinnitus
You may have heard that tinnitus can’t be cured so then how do you stop ringing in your ears? But, depending on the cause of the tinnitus, it can go away, for example, the tinnitus you might have after attending a loud concert. However, not all damage can be reversed, so this does not mean that you should keep exposing yourself to loud noise constantly.
In the cases where tinnitus is permanent, it can be treated so that it is no longer as severe. Treating the underlying cause is the best way to treat tinnitus. There are also great tools that you can use to provide some relief and cope with the tinnitus.
If your tinnitus is caused by medication, speak to your doctor about changing to a different type of medication or coming off your medication. In some cases, medication is not necessary. An example of this is when you have a cold or the flu which is viral and you are given antibiotics unnecessarily because antibiotics only target bacteria.
But there are some illnesses where medication is necessary and to stop taking your medication is dangerous. Not to worry, there are other solutions. Read on further to the extra tips to treat tinnitus.
When excess wax becomes impacted it can affect your hearing and cause tinnitus. Never use cotton buds or other objects to remove the wax because this just pushes it in further. A few drops of baby oil, hydrogen peroxide (3% solution mixed with equal parts of water), or ear drops should help.
You need to keep the liquid in your ear for a few minutes, and if necessary, do it twice a day for a few days. Make sure the drops are warm since cold drops can cause dizziness. You can also try an earwax removal kit like this one.
If these solutions do not help, you may need to go to the doctor or a nurse so that they can remove the wax. It may be tempting to stick something in your ear to clean it out or to turn to dangerous and ineffective treatments like ear candles, but avoid doing any of this. A doctor or nurse will be able to see what they are doing and be able to avoid injuring your ear.
Rather see the doctor before trying to remove the wax yourself if:
- The earwax is smelly
- The earwax is discolored
- The discharge is not earwax
- There is blood
- There is a lot of pain
Any injuries to your neck, head, or ears can be serious. Not all the injuries will be serious but severe pain, blood, dizziness, confusion, etc are definitely cause to see a medical professional. If you are experiencing tinnitus after an injury of any kind, be sure to let your doctor know.
4. Underlying Illnesses
In the cases where the problem is because of an illness, that illness will need to be dealt with. Usually, you will hear and even possibly feel pulsing or throbbing in your ear. This is because something (possibly tumors) may be pressing against the blood vessels or nerves in the ear. Hardening of blood vessels near the ear can also cause tinnitus.
For conditions that can’t be treated at home, you will need to follow the doctor’s treatment plans. But make a point of staying healthy to prevent disease. Even if you do already have a chronic illness, a healthy lifestyle can improve your quality of life and even reverse certain diseases such as diabetes.
Get your cholesterol checked once a year, or twice a year if it runs in your family. Eat healthy meals that contain healthy fats, eat enough fiber, lower your intake of meat and grains, increase your intake of vegetables, and exercise at least 3 times a week, but preferably 5-6 days a week for a half an hour.
5. Ear Infections and Mucus
If your ear becomes infected, if it is due to bacteria you will likely receive antibiotics. But there are also other things that can help:
- Garlic oil: Garlic has antibiotic properties. Mince 3 cloves of garlic and mix it with half a cup of olive oil. Let the mixture steep for a week, then strain the garlic out and use the oil as you would normal ear drops, few times a day.
- Oregano pearls: Oregano is a great natural antibiotic. Oregano pearls are easy to swallow but you can also put a few drops of oregano oil in hot water and inhale the steam. Be sure to use a towel to cover your head and the bowl. This will help with sinus problems. Sinus problems often affect the ears.
Earlier viral infections can lead to tinnitus later in the life because of a mucus build up. Removing this buildup of mucus can relieve the tinnitus. Consuming garlic and oregano pearls is the answer. They are also helpful in combating mucus build up in the ear due to some viral infection you may have had.
6. Nutritional Deficiencies
A deficiency in some nutrients can cause tinnitus. The most common cause of these deficiencies is not eating a healthy varied diet. Diets that are high in processed foods often lack nutrients. What’s more is that even when you do eat healthily, the soil quality has been reduced and our food is no longer as nutritious. Read more about the vitamin supplements everyone should be taking here.
These nutrients below are the ones specifically linked with tinnitus:
1. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is a common deficiency. Vegetarians and vegans are most at risk if they don’t supplement but meat eaters can develop a deficiency too. Coffee can also interfere with the absorption of vitamin B12 from food so never consume coffee within an hour of eating B12 foods like meat or fortified cereals and milk.
Some other symptoms of a B12 deficiency will be fatigue, being pale, and feeling weak. Read more about how to prevent a B12 deficiency here.
RDA: 2.4 mcg (2.6 mcg for pregnant women, 2.8 mcg for breastfeeding women)
Supplement: 5 mcg capsule or spray of methylcobalamin per day (B12 is water soluble so overdose is rare) or 1000-2000 mcg injection as prescribed by a doctor.
B12 is best taken with folate, you can try this supplement which combines both methylcobalamin and folate in one supplement.
Zinc is a mineral that plays an important role in the strength of our immune system, the health of our skin, and it helps to keep tinnitus in check. This study found that as our age increases our zinc levels decrease which can result in louder tinnitus. If you are taking an iron supplement, take a zinc supplement too to prevent depletion and for better overall health.
RDA: 11 mg for men, 8 mg for women
Supplement: 15mg zinc orotate per day
Copper should be taken with zinc to prevent depletion. Take 1-2mg copper orotate per day with your zinc supplement.
Magnesium is another nutrient that many are deficient in, especially those who shun whole foods. Quite a few studies have been done regarding the link between low levels of magnesium and tinnitus. This study shows that magnesium lessens the severity of tinnitus. Find out more about the benefits of magnesium and where to get it here.
RDA: 400-420 mg for men, 310-320 mg for women
Supplement: 500-800 mg per day
Take any magnesium salt ending in “ate” excluding magnesium stearate, asperate and oxide.
4. Vitamin K2
Vitamin K, among other things, ensures that the calcium that you consume is directed into your bones and teeth to strengthen them and make them hard and that the excess is excreted in your urine. A deficiency in vitamin K can result in calcium deposits going into your soft tissues instead which causes hardening.
Sometimes calcium deposits can form in the ear and this can lead to tinnitus. Taking a supplement may help with this.
RDA: 120 mcg for men, 90 mcg for women
Supplement: 400 mcg of the MK-7 form of vitamin K per day in the morning
Vitamin K2 should be taken with 40 000 IU of vitamin D3. Try it for a week to see if this works for you. Afterward, keep supplementing at a maintenance dose of 100 mcg MK-7 and 10 000 IU of vitamin D3.
Taking supplements is a good idea, but not all supplements are created equally. Click here to find out the truth about supplements and how to choose the best supplements to make sure that you are doing the best for your mind and body.
7. Stress and Anxiety
Stress is a huge problem. While short bouts of stress are normal, not dealing with stress when it arises can cause it to become chronic. This means that your body is constantly full of stress hormones. Chronic stress is so unhealthy that it leads to chronic illnesses and in some cases, it can even lead to depression or anxiety.
Anxiety is the incorrect response of the brain to stress. Where fear is usually to keep us safe, for example, if we look over a cliff, it keeps us from walking right off the cliff. But with anxiety, thoughts about money, the future, social engagements, meetings, even leaving the house, can cause a panic attack or anxious response resulting in heart palpitations, sweating, nausea, and even feeling as if you can’t breathe.
Here are some coping methods and helpful treatments:
- Meditation: Meditation can calm your mind and help you to be more present in the moment which is great if you worry about the future a lot. It relaxes your muscles and helps you to be more in control of your body and mind. This helps you to respond to stressful situations better and even get rid of anxiety. Read more about meditation and its benefits here.
- Forest bathing: Forest bathing is not actually taking a bath in nature. It means to connect with nature. Take a walk in the forest or even your garden, take in the trees and the plants surrounding you. Having a picnic out in nature is also a great way to do it. Being around nature is calming and soothing. It lowers your stress levels and blood pressure.
- Deep breathing: When you breathe calmly, you are signaling to your brain that you are okay. Relieve stress by inhaling through your nose for 4 seconds and exhale through your mouth for 6 seconds. Try to make sure that your stomach expands as you inhale to ensure deep breathing. You can get an app too, try this one on the Google Play store or at iTunes.
- Do things that you enjoy: Having fun is one of the best ways to bust stress. Check out this study on the stress lowering and depression busting effect of laughter. Taking your mind off your problems and boosting your mood does wonder for your stress levels.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a technique used to slowly change the way you think and react to various stimuli permanently. So instead of reaching for that drink when stressed, go for a walk or pet the dog instead or if your thoughts are “I am going to end up a failure”, rather change that thought to, “I have the potential to succeed, and I will succeed”.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture can relieve tinnitus and stress. Needles are used to stimulate the various pressure points which will relieve tension and can help the body to heal itself.
- Acupressure: If you are not a fan of acupuncture, acupressure is a great alternative. Using the same pressure points as in acupuncture you can relieve stress. The idea is to apply pressure to the pressure point for about 3 minutes. For example, the pressure point just above the webbing between your thumb and index finger, this is pressure point relieves tension and headaches.
If you are struggling to cope on your own with stress or anxiety, I recommend speaking to a counselor or therapist. They are trained to be able to help and even just speaking to someone impartial can be beneficial.
Extra Tips for Treating Tinnitus
- Coffee: The caffeine in the coffee helps to ease tinnitus. Caffeine can help to increase blood circulation and as found in this study, it helps to reduce tinnitus. Coffee is not for everyone, so check out my dos and don’ts here. Also, never drink coffee with your meals, this can lead to further nutritional depletion. Don’t like coffee? Caffeine is also found in Ceylon tea, green tea, and cocoa though in smaller amounts.
- Ginkgo biloba: Ginkgo biloba is another herb that increases blood circulation. It even has anti-inflammatory properties which are helpful if there is an infection and combats stress. Take 120 mg daily. Get an extract form containing 24 % to 32 % flavonoids and 6 % to 12 % terpenoids to ensure quality. It can take a few weeks, so be patient.
- Salt pillow: Try a warm salt pillow. Fill a pillowcase with salt and then heat it up. Lie down on your side with your ear on the pillow until it cools down, then reheat the pillow and do the same to the other side. You may need to do this a few times.
- Tapping: Many people have found this technique very helpful in relieving their tinnitus. Tapping is used to reduce tinnitus by stimulating the nerves that may be causing it. Check out the video below to see how to to do it.
Tapping to stop tinnitus by Dr. Berg:
How to Sleep or Concentrate if You have Tinnitus
This is one of the worse things about having tinnitus, but these remedies may help:
- Melatonin: Melatonin is the hormone that tells your body to sleep. In this study the participants who had tinnitus were given melatonin. They were able to sleep better despite the tinnitus.
- White noise: White noise machines are often used in open plan offices so that workers can’t hear the disruptive background noise. It works by having the brain concentrate on the white noise rather than the other noise. It can help you to fall asleep and can help you to concentrate especially if you need silence to concentrate.
- Music or other sounds: Music can also be soothing and distract your mind from the sound of the tinnitus. You can also play other sounds, for example, nature sounds (rain, the ocean, a river, etc). This can be effective for times when you need to concentrate or when you need to sleep. See what works for you.
How to Prevent Tinnitus
There are a few simple steps that you can take to prevent damage to your hearing and tinnitus. Some of these may not seem fun, especially if you are young, but realize that every time you have been in a loud situation and you can’t hear as well as you could before, you have done some damage. That damage is usually temporary, but it does build up over time.
Try These Simple and Effective Things:
- Avoid loud sounds and music: This may not always be possible if you work in a place where there is a lot of noise. At concerts and parties, the music is usually excessively loud too. Wear earplugs. Those little foam earplugs can reduce the volume by around 33 dB (decibels). A healthy volume level is around 80-85 dB.
- Get a decibel meter: This is especially important for younger people who may not realize how loud the music or noise really is. You can download one onto your phone.
- Eat healthily: As you saw, nutritional deficiencies can cause problems in your ears. It is not only your ears that are affected, but your overall health too, so eat lots of vegetables, minimize grains and meat, limit your alcohol and junk food consumption, and quit smoking if you are a smoker.
- Only take medication when absolutely necessary: Some illnesses make medication necessary. But in many cases, medication is not necessary. When you have a headache, try a glass of water first, many headaches are brought on by dehydration. If you have a cold or the flu, rather try these home remedies.
- Tinnitus is subjective in most cases meaning only the person suffering from it can hear it.
- Causes of tinnitus include exposure to loud noise, nutritional deficiencies, atherosclerosis, tumors, stress, anxiety, certain medications, and ear infections.
- Tinnitus can be treated by eating garlic, putting garlic oil into the ear, ginkgo biloba, dealing with stress, supplementing with vitamins B12, K2, and D3 as well as magnesium and zinc.
- A white noise machine and melatonin can be helpful for sleep.
Do you have tinnitus? Which remedies have you tried and found helpful?