Are you hearing ringing, hissing, buzzing or roaring sounds in one or both of your ears? What you’re experiencing is called Tinnitus. This ringing in the ears is most common in seniors, and though it can be extremely annoying, it is usually not a sign of a serious problem.

Tinnitus can be caused by a number of conditions, including ear infections, thyroid problems, high blood pressure and rheumatoid arthritis. For seniors, the most common causes may be the cumulative damage from loud noises, or reactions to medication. Tinnitus, which is the result of cell damage in the inner ear, can sometimes be the first sign of age- related hearing loss (presbycusis). The damaged cells send sound information to the brain when no sounds are actually occurring.

If you’ve ever gone to a concert and come home with a temporary ringing in your ears, you’ve experienced Tinnitus. As we age, tinnitus can become a chronic condition that stays with us permanently. The experience can range from annoying to debilitating, as it can be a cause of anxiety, irritability, impaired concentration and sleep problems. If this is happening to you or a loved one, seek help from a doctor or specialist, but also consider using some of the coping strategies listed below.

  • Hearing Aids – Many people with tinnitus have found that if they wear a hearing aid they are less bothered by this condition. A Hearing aid can make all outside sounds clearer so the tinnitus is less noticeable.
  • Sounds that mask – Running a white noise machine, listening to soft music or other soft sounds can sometimes cover up the ringing, hissing or roaring sounds.
  • Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) – A tinnitus expert can offer this therapy, which helps retrain the brain to perceive the tinnitus noise as normal background sounds, rather than an irritating distraction.
  • Biofeedback – Biofeedback can teach you to relax and breathe deeply when you hear the tinnitus noise, changing your body’s reaction to it. This technique helps you to remain relaxed and be less annoyed by the ringing.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – This is a form of therapy that helps you learn to cope with tinnitus and find ways to distract yourself. It can help you view this condition in a different way.

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