Often referred to as "ringing in the ears," tinnitus is often not a serious health problem, but more of a nuisance. With this disorder, sufferers hear sounds in one or both ears, yet only they can hear it (there is no external sound present). The sounds experienced can be short-lived or constant, soft in tone or loud enough to drown out other external noises. The sounds experienced are characterized with terms such as hissing, whistling, clicking, chirping, pulsing, buzzing or a high-pitched ringing sound.
Tinnitus is not a single disease, but a symptom of underlying disorder of the outer, middle or inner ear or brain. There are a number of reasons an individual may develop tinnitus. The most common cause is exposure to loud noises, such as at a concert or sporting event, which can cause damage to the auditory nerve cells. Other reasons can include disease or structural changes to the bones of the ear, health conditions such as Meniere’s disease, tumors on the auditory, vestibular or facial nerves, head or neck trauma and even wax build-up in the ear.
For some people with tinnitus, the sounds being heard can also be detected by others. This is called objective tinnitus. Objective tinnitus is often associated with health concerns such as high blood pressure, where a rhythmic pulsing sound can be detected in and around the ears (Pulsating tinnitus). It is also identified when a clicking sound is heard which is often linked with TMJ, jaw misalignment or a twitching of muscles of ear or throat.
Fortunately, there are a number of natural and alternative health remedies you can try to help reduce further hearing loss or lessen the quality or volume of the sounds being experienced.
Recommendations for wellness
- First and foremost when talking about hearing loss and tinnitus, the most important thing to remember is to protect your ears. This will help to reduce or eliminate any damage or additional damage to your ears. Avoid exposure to loud noises and sounds. If you know you will be in a loud environment, use ear plugs or other forms of ear protection.
- Stop worrying about the tinnitus. Often when we worry about it, we end up focusing our attention on the sound even more, making it seem louder than it may be.
- Learn to control your anxiety and stress by explore relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga.
- Biofeedback has been show to help diminish tinnitus symptoms in some individuals.
- Try turning on the radio, a fan or using a white noise generator, especially if you are trying to sleep. We tend to notice the sounds produced by tinnitus when our surroundings are quiet.
- Reduce or eliminate caffeine or other "stimulating" foods from your diet. It tends to worsen symptoms.
- If you think your tinnitus may be associated with your blood pressure, talk to your health care professional about ways to safely reduce it.
- In turn, if you suffer from inflammation or pain in the neck, jaw, teeth or sinuses, it is also a good idea to seek professional help.
- Get some acupuncture done. In Chinese medicine, tinnitus is associated with depleted left kidney energy (chi).
- Ear candling is a simple and effective method for removing ear wax build-up, fungus and impaction from within the ear canal.
- Ginkgo biloba has been show to help ear problems by improving blood flow to the nerves of the inner ear.
- Cordyceps have been used successfully by individuals with tinnitus caused by fluid accumulation in the ear and ear canal.
- Research has shown that supplementing with the B vitamins, especially vitamins B12, B6 and B5 can help to reduce ringing in the ears.
- You might want to try rubbing the mastoid bone (the bone behind the ear) with a bit of warm sesame oil. Do it twice a day for a week to see if this helps.
- Some individuals have experienced relief by putting three drops of garlic oil into their ear at night before going to bed.