by Andrea Fillmore

Tinnitus is a common hearing issue. But unlike losing hearing function, tinnitus instead creates a “phantom” sound when there is actually no sound present. For me, and for most people, this sounds like a high-pitched microphone feedback noise (but it can also be whooshing, buzzing, and others sounds).

At Hough Ear Institute, we’re working hard to help you get relief from the constant barrage of that unwanted and uncomfortable noise. But until we’ve completed that research, here are a few ways you can manage some of your tinnitus symptoms.

Use hearing protection.

This is the most important thing anyone can do to prevent further damage to their hearing. I regularly use earplugs at church, concerts, movies, and other places where the noise is too high. Hint: If you have to raise your voice to be heard by people near you, the noise levels are not good for you! These are the ear plugs I use but consult your doctor for his or her recommendations on what’s great for you.

Manage stress levels.

Most doctors will agree stress is bad for your heart, but it can negatively affect your hearing too! Take time to breathe, exercise, and de-stress each day. It’s great for your overall health AND your hearing.

Stop smoking.

Smoking has been proven to be extremely unhealthy. You know it’s bad for your lungs and throat, but I bet you didn’t know that smokers are also at a higher risk of hearing loss!

Reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption.

Of all the things on this list, this might be the hardest for me, and I’m sure for some of you also. The Mayo Clinic has shared that this is part of an overall healthy lifestyle and can lead to healthier hearing. So while it may be too difficult to quit the morning coffee, perhaps you can cut out the afternoon soda or (if you’re like me) the second or third coffee of the day!

Reduce loud noise exposure.

There are a few restaurants I love, but don’t visit as frequently because they’re so loud! If you reduce the time and frequency of your exposure to loud noises, AND wear hearing protection you’re doing a lot to protect your hearing. My tinnitus seems to be aggravated after loud music or noise. So part of the solution is being more aware of my surroundings and planning ahead while doing my best to avoid overexposure to high volume noises. This isn’t as easy if you’re working around loud equipment all the time, but reduce exposure when you can.

Have your ears checked for excess earwax.

This seems a bit strange, but an excessive buildup of earwax can prevent healthy hearing and can aggravate tinnitus. This isn’t as common as other causes of tinnitus but it’s still something to look into. Make an appointment with your doctor and check out the wax!

Ask your doctor about possible side effects of current prescriptions.

Certain medicines and antibiotics aggravate tinnitus or can even lead to temporary tinnitus symptoms. Ask your doctor about your medications to see if these could be making your symptoms worse.

As always, see your doctor with specific questions or concerns. The advice here isn’t legal medical insight, but can help you mitigate some of the risks or problems that could be aggravating your tinnitus.

I want to invite you to watch a recent video that illustrates what Hough Ear Institute is doing to help people like you and your loved ones who suffer from tinnitus.

Happy Hearing!


Content adapted from Mayo Clinic “Tinnitus Symptoms and Causes”