Tinnitus is common in El Paso; about one in five Texans suffers from a persistent ringing in the ears. What begins as a nuisance often develops into a full-fledged distraction that affects many aspects of their daily lives. There is no cure for tinnitus, but we do have some tips and tricks to make living with it easier.
The Negative Effects of Tinnitus on Your Quality of Life
Tinnitus often starts out as an occasional occurrence you barely notice. Over time, it may become more prevalent, to the point where it is so bothersome it begins to impact your physical and mental health.
People with tinnitus in El Paso may experience anxiety, stress and irritability. These tend to exacerbate the problem, making symptoms even worse. That ringing in your ears at night can make it difficult to fall asleep, leading to daytime fatigue and an inability to concentrate. Memory problems may occur, and a lack of focus can interfere with your ability to perform your job. Eventually, relationships can suffer. Despite the lack of a cure, there are ways to cope with tinnitus. Learning to habituate is the first step toward finding relief. The following life hacks can help you deal with tinnitus so it doesn’t become an all-consuming burden on your quality of life.
- High-fidelity earplugs. Tinnitus only worsens over time, so it’s important to preserve your remaining hearing. Earplugs are essential in protecting your ears from damaging sounds, but regular earplugs tend to muffle and distort sounds, making it difficult to have a conversation or listen to music. High-fidelity earplugs use filters that reduce decibel levels evenly across the entire hearing spectrum, allowing you to enjoy music and have conversations at lower (safer) volume levels. One-size-fits-all high-fidelity earplugs are available for purchase online and in a few retailers; better still, your El Paso audiologist can create custom plugs from molds of your ear canals. They cost a bit more but offer better comfort and protection. High-fidelity earplugs come with interchangeable attenuators for a variety of different listening environments.
- White noise. One of the most effective ways of coping with tinnitus involves masking techniques such as white noise. The concept is simple: background noise is used to cover up the ringing noise in your ears, distracting your brain so the tinnitus is no longer as noticeable. A variety of white noise machines and apps are available, many of them using ambient sounds such as ocean waves or falling rain, but the same effect can be achieved by turning on an air conditioner, fan, or other device that emits low-level noise. Even soft music or a radio tuned to static can help! Another tip: if you wear hearing aids, turning up the volume on those can help to drown out the sounds of tinnitus. If you do use white noise to mask tinnitus, try setting the volume a little bit lower than the ringing noise in your ears. Partial masking lowers the perceived volume of your tinnitus, making it less bothersome and helping you to habituate more effectively. This is known as tinnitus retraining therapy.
- Keep a bag of supplies readily available. Tinnitus symptoms aren’t always constant; for many sufferers, the noise is intermittent and unpredictable. Having a bag filled with supplies to help you deal with tinnitus whenever it occurs is a great way to be prepared whenever you venture out. Your bag should contain items that will help you overcome any tinnitus-related challenges as they occur; items to pack might include medications, earplugs, hearing aids, headphones or earbuds (for connecting to a smartphone when using white noise apps) and a list of emergency contacts, including your El Paso hearing specialist.
Your El Paso audiologist can provide you with additional tips to help you cope with tinnitus and overcome its hurdles.