How to Stop Ringing in the Ears. Why the Ringing?

As a senior with non-debilitating ringing in the ears (tinnitus), I have avidly reviewed as much information as I could find to understand how to stop ringing in the ears. I assure myself that I was not imaging these noises (which no-one else could seem to hear) and losing my mind.

What is this condition? Why the ringing? How do I stop ringing in the ears? “Is it possible to do so?”  Why is it sometimes louder in certain situations or at certain times? I needed answers……..

While there is certainly a lot of digital and hard copy medically related information out there, a one stop quick read targeted at non-debilitated sufferers like myself and people who never even heard about the condition before eluded my searches.

This article reviews several topical literature, articles and websites from the wealth of available material, and presents it in a concise manner for anyone who wants a quick 101 on tinnitus.

I also share some of my own experiences on triggers, and guide the reader to some best additional resources – if further reading is desired.

Once equipped with this basic information, it is recommended that you visit your doctor for a hearing test. By this stage, you should confidently be able to engage with and ask your physician or audiologist questions like a pro!

What is Ringing in the Ears?

“Ringing in the ears” is actually a broad term which is medically referred to as tinnitus. It is not a disease, but is a symptom of an underlying condition. This could be due to exposure to loud noise, age-related hearing loss, earwax blockage, ear bone

changes or a disorder in the circulatory system. It is characterized by the sensation of hearing sound in one or both ears without an external sound being present. The sounds can be soft or loud, high or low-pitched, temporary, intermittent or persistent and may even sound like bells ringing.

Listen to the video clip on “Ringing in the Ears” by Jonoro on Pixabay of an example of what this may sound like to a sufferer.

To better understand how we hear, also view the video clip “Journey of Sound to the Brain” created by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDOCD) – https://youtu.be/eQEaiZ2j9oc

Types and Causes of Ringing Sounds

There are different causes for the variety of “ringing ear sounds” we may experience. Causes not previously mentioned are brain tumors, hormonal changes in women, Meniere’s disease, and abnormalities in the thyroid.

How to Stop Ringing in the Ears – Common Types of Tinnitus

Most types of tinnitus however are senso-neural, meaning that they are generally due to hearing loss caused in the snail shaped cochlea or the associated auditory nerves (both in the inner ear).

Damage to hair cells in the cochlea is especially problematic because these cells help transform sound waves into nerve signals. If the auditory nerve does not receive the electrical signals they are programmed to expect from the cochlea, the brain will increase its activity on the auditory nerve circuits to try to detect these signals.

The resulting electrical noise transforms as tinnitus that may be high or low-pitched in nature.

  • Low-pitched ringing – may occur in one or both ears and sometimes becomes very loud before an attack of vertigo where you perceive that you or your surroundings are spinning or moving around. Vertigo is not a pleasant experience and typically causes disorientation.
  • High-pitched ringing or buzzing – caused by exposure to very loud noise or injury to the head or ear which may disappear after a few hours. Long-term noise exposure, age-related hearing loss or medications can cause a continuous high -pitched ringing in both ears.

How to Stop Ringing in the Ears – Other Types of Tinnitus Sounds

  • Clicking – caused by muscle contractions within and around the ear; may be sharp and occurring in short or long bursts
  • Rushing or humming – caused by issues with blood vessels and are generally more noticeable when you change your overall body position or exercise.
  • Heartbeat – caused by a disorder in the circulatory system such as high blood pressure, blood clots, tumor or, by a blockage in the ear canal and may be very serious
  • Hissing, roaring chirping, whistling, screeching, static, pulsing, whooshing, musical or other sounds – caused by stiff bones in the inner ear, earwax, foreign bodies or hairs in the ear canal rubbing against the eardrum.

Check out these sounds in a playlist compiled by the American Tinnitus Association (ATA) of the most common tinnitus sounds – https://www.ata.org/understanding-facts/symptoms . You can use this playlist to find the sound descriptor that best matches your own condition.

Tinnitus often develops gradually, although it can worsen with age. To most people, it is just a source of annoyance, but to others it can be debilitating, interfering with their concentration, sleep, or even cause anxiety, emotional stress or depression.

How to Stop Ringing in the Ears – What are the Facts?

  • According to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), tinnitus affects over 2.6 billion people worldwide. It is believed that between 50 – 60 million Americans suffer from the condition of which 20 million people experience burdensome, non-debilitating tinnitus, and approximately 2 million people are affected by severe debilitating tinnitus..
  • It is especially common in people over 55 years, but children and adolescents have also been known to experience it.
How to Stop Ringing in the Ears

An American Journal of Medicine article by Shargorodsky, Curhan & Farwell on the “Characteristics of Tinnitus among U.S. Adults (cited by ATA) identified additional interesting findings aside from age:

 Caucasians are more likely to experience tinnitus

Males experience tinnitus more frequently than females

  • All articles reviewed expressed the belief that almost everyone has experienced tinnitus at some point in their lives, for at least a short period following exposure to some sort of extremely loud noise. For example, attending a loud concert can trigger short-lived tinnitus.
  • A previous article by Metamorphosis Hub on “The Best Hearing Aids for Seniors. Degrees of Hearing Loss” – https://metamorphosishub.com/the-best-hearing-aids-for-seniors-5-degrees-of-hearing-loss/” refers the reader to a Noise Meter created by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Check it out.
  • It is interesting to note that some everyday sounds we are accustomed to hearing such as the lawnmower, motorcycle, sports events and sirens, among others, are all above the 85 dB safe threshold for sound.
  • The commonest form of tinnitus is a steady high-pitched ringing. The volume of the sound can fluctuate and is often most noticeable during periods of quiet and at night.
  • Some medications such as aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs taken in high doses can cause tinnitus but this will disappear when the drug is discontinued.

No “Cookie Cutter” Treatment for Tinnitus

How to Stop Ringing in the Ears

The diagnosis of tinnitus is usually based on the description provided by the affected person and validated by an audiogram and a neurological examination.

The biggest problem is the subjectivity, because everyone perceives something slightly different and therefore treatment can be complicated as there is no “cookie cutter” scientifically derived cure.

Detailed medical questioning is used to elicit information to assess the degree of interference of tinnitus on a person’s lifestyle.  Further testing by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be required if underlying problems are detected.

In the event that the tinnitus occurs with the same rhythm as the heartbeat, more detailed tests will be conducted as this indication may be of a more serious nature.

There is no cure for most cases of tinnitus.

The goal of treatment is to help manage the perceived intensity of the ringing in the ears, or the effects of some medical and behavioral indications (insomnia, hearing difficulties, anxiety, depression, social isolation).

Some Triggers of Tinnitus

How To Stop Rnging In The Ears

Just as there is no single universal treatment for tinnitus, the literature shows that not everyone is triggered in the same way.

Possible triggers include fatigue, alcohol, drinks with caffeine such as coffee, tea, carbonated and many energy drinks – all of which most people enjoy. Other known triggers are salt, aspirin and smoking.

Triggers specific to you may also exist, but you will need to identify these by close monitoring of your food and drink intake, daily activities, and lifestyle situations through a process of elimination.

My Experience on How to Stop Ringing in the Ears

Working for several years in the corporate world and frequently traveling 2-3 times a month on various types and sizes of aircraft invariably brought on my very gradual ringing in the ears.

This was compounded by exposure to very loud noise on the small 6-8 passenger jets sometimes used to transport us to some remote Company sites in Northern Canada. The damage was done and tinnitus crept in gradually without any warning.

How To Stop Rnging In The Ears

For many years, I wondered at the ringing sound in my ears which initially were intermittent and later over time became continuous. Occasionally these sounds would turn into loud screeching in the quietness of my bedroom at night.

At first my doctor thought the sounds were being caused by accumulated earwax. Relief was not in sight, and gradually over the years I have learned to block the noise out by fully immersing myself in whatever I am doing.

This is much easier to do during the day than in the quietness of the night.

Recently, by a process of careful self-monitoring, I have found that coffee, sugary foods, fatigue and stress seem to trigger higher frequencies in my tinnitus.

I have tried to adjust my lifestyle accordingly and cut back on intake of caffeine and carbonated drinks – difficult but “do-able”.  More importantly, I have learned to relax whenever I become stressed or fatigued. I leave whatever I am doing and move to a more quiet place to calm down.

In Conclusion

This article has reviewed the general questions around ringing in the ears and how to stop these annoying noises. Sadly, my research points to there being no scientifically validated method to do so.

Treatment is solely directed at reducing the perceived intensity of tinnitus and will be discussed separately.

What are your triggers to frequency changes in your ringing in the ears? How have you tried to relieve the intensity? I welcome you to share your experiences below in the Comments Box. I would love to hear from you and will most certainly respond.

Some References

1. Tinnitus: Symptoms and Causes (2020) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tinnitus/symptoms-causes/syc-20350156

2.Tinnitus: Ringing in the ears and what to do about it (April 2020) https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/tinnitus-ringing-in-the-ears-and-what-to-do-about-it

3. Tinnitus: Understanding the Facts (2013) https://www.ata.org/understanding-facts

4. Tinnitus and Hyperacusis (2019) https://www.chs.ca/tinnitus-and-hyperacusis

5. Hearing, Ear Infections and Deafness (2020) https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health

16 thoughts on “How to Stop Ringing in the Ears. Why the Ringing?”

  1. Great post Ceci. My friend suffers from tinnitus due to being in a band for a long time. he finds white nosie is a huge help. Thanks agan fr a great post.

    Reply
    • Thanks for stopping by Russ. White noise is definitely a huge help for some folks. Stay tuned for some more interesting information I found which i will present in as future post.
      Ceci

      Reply
  2. There is some great information here. I don’t suffer from tinnitus, but my dad does. I’m sure he will find this article very helpful.

    Thank you for the article and keep up the great work!
    -Joseph

    Reply
    • Thanks for reading Joseph! Tinnitus is a very annoying condition – I should know since I suffer from it. Should your father be interested, there are several other related articles on the website which he might enjoy.

      Ceci

      Reply
  3. I had that problem a couple of years ago.
    Thankfully, it didn’t last for a very long time and I haven’t had it ever since.
    I had no idea that white noise can have a positive influence on people who are experiencing ringing in the years.
    I’ll keep that in mind!
    Thanks so much for sharing, your content is very helpful!

    Reply
    • Glad to hear that your tinnitus disappeared. It must have been temporarily induced by some loud noise which did not cause any permanent damage. So, do try to stay away from loud noise.

      Thanks for reading the article

      Ceci

      Reply
  4. Hi Ceci,

    Thanks for such a fascinating and informative read.

    I am literally blown away to discover that a third of world’s population (2.6 billion people, as stated in your article) suffer from this condition.

    I never realized that tinnitus had such a huge worldwide impact.

    I also found it extremely interesting that certain beverages (especially stimulants by the look of it) could trigger tinnitus.

    Thanks for such a fantastic read and keep up the great work.

    Partha

    Reply
    • Thanks for the read Partha. I was incredibly surprised to learn all these facts as I researched for this article. I had no idea there so many with the condition. Some people who read this article have posted comments describing their own tinnitus as well, so it seems true that there is a “small army” of us out there with the condition!

      Hope you’ll stop by again for some other interesting articles…

      Ceci

      Reply
  5. Wow Ceci. What an incredible comprehensive guide on Tinnitus. I have been suffering from this horrible issue for many years. Up to now I have simply learned to live with it. Mainly because I suffer from other medical conditions that I needed to deal with.
    Your article has made me realise that my other illnesses may be related and caused by the same underlying problems.
    I really need to come back to your article and study it further.
    I will leave you my email address because I want to have more information in this condition and other articles you might write on other illnesses. Thank you Jim

    Reply
    • Hi Jim, I am delighted that you found value in this article. It’s amazing what a little insight into a particular issue can do for you! I am working on a couple of other articles at the moment. I will certainly keep you posted.Stay tuned!
      Ceci

      Reply
  6. I had never heard of tinnitus before. And I was startled to learn that so much of the world’s population is afflicted by it. What a shocking thing! Especially useful is the tip that probably sugary stuff triggers the condition.
    Nice article as usual Ceci.
    Thanks.
    Aps

    Reply
  7. Hi Ceci.
    Thanks for all the information.
    I didn’t realize that there were so many different types of ringing sounds, and also that so many people have this condition. Wow!
    My story: The ringing in my ears began about 28 years ago. There are many different frequencies playing in both ears at any given time, and …… At first, the sounds were all over the place. Both ears are mostly always different, and sometimes the sounds would be very loud, other times just audible, and sometimes they would not be present.

    Over the years the frequencies have settled down and are a lot more consistent. The very loud bursts are now infrequent and the frequencies are a lot closer together (now missing the very high and low ones).
    Although the sounds are loud in my head, they don’t interfere with me being able to hear what is going on outside my head. They never stopped my having conversations, hearing noises in the distance, etc. and this has always fascinated me.

    I have never been to a doctor about this as basically I just ignore it and get on with life. I don’t think that medication is a good solution. I will cut coffee and sugary foods from my diet for a while just to see if this makes a difference.

    Many thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Andrew,
      Since writing this article, it never ceases to amaze me the number of people that have tinnitus sharing their personal stories on this platform! Just like you, many have never been to a doctor. In your case, cutting out the caffeine and pop is certainly a good idea to begin with. I would however still suggest that you still see a doctor to ensure that your form is not one that can deteriorate into deafness in old age.

      Ceci

      Reply
  8. Hi Ceci.

    I am sorry to hear that you suffer from this horrible condition. Mine started 8 years ago and the bad thing about my tinnitus is that I cannot pinpoint why did this happen to me. I have never been a fan of loud places, like clubs. I can probably use my 10 fingers to show how many times I’ve visited a club, and still would have a few fingers to spare.

    I did travel a lot on the plane however, not as often as you, but often enough. Definitely more than an average person.

    I was very surprised to read the numbers you mention, I had no idea that so many people suffer from this. I have stopped looking things about tinnitus up, because it just frustrates me. I cannot do anything about it. But it’s nice to feel that you are not alone and that many people suffer from this too. It’s not always easy, it sometimes causes me sleepless nights, but it’s up to us, how we deal with it. We just need to learn how to relaxed, just like you mentioned.

    Thank you again x

    Reply
    • Reading through the comments for this article you will find that there are several sufferers of this condition. Fortunately, understanding the condition, causes and things you can do to tone it down are helpful. Furthermore, there are some technological gadgets that claim to provide relief. Stay tuned for a future article that provides a review of some personal tests made for these gadgets. Subscribe to the website and you will be one of the first to be notified as soon as the article is posted.
      Ceci

      Reply

Leave a Comment

error

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

Follow by Email
RSS