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Living with tinnitus while raising a family

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When you have tinnitus, it means that you hear a persistent buzzing or ringing in your ears that other people can’t hear. The problem can be constant or intermittent, and you can develop tinnitus even when you have normal hearing.

In the United States, 50 million people have some form of tinnitus while 16 million require treatment due to the severity and two million people have such a severe form of the disorder that they can’t function in their day to day lives. Tinnitus can be especially challenging to live with for parents with children still in the home. Perhaps you can relate to the feeling of not being able to keep up with your kids because of the frustration and exhaustion of tinnitus.

Symptoms and Causes of Tinnitus

Besides buzzing or ringing, you might also hear clicking, hissing, or roaring in your ears with this condition. Known as phantom sounds because they don’t truly exist, hearing these sounds frequently or all the time can impact you sleep quality and overall enjoyment of life. Tinnitus can be either permanent or temporary, and the cause is often unknown. However, the following are the most typical causes of tinnitus:

  • Certain medical conditions
  • Certain medications
  • Circulatory system issues
  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Head or neck trauma
  • Misaligned jaw joints
  • Noise-induced hearing loss
  • Slow-growing tumors on face or ear nerves
  • Stress
  • Wax build-up in the ears

Regardless of the specific cause, all cases of tinnitus involve a deficit in the brain’s auditory cortex. Treatment aims to correct the deficiency to get you back to a good quality of life.

Tips to Live with Tinnitus as Comfortably as Possible

The advice to increase background noise might seem like an oxymoron when you live with tinnitus. However, it makes sense when you consider that a very quiet environment can cause you to focus only on the ringing, buzzing, or other noise in your ears and make you feel agitated. Soft music can be an especially good choice.

Improving your diet is another tip for living successfully with tinnitus. Studies in the audiology industry have shown that consuming larger than average amounts of alcohol or caffeine can worsen symptoms. A healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and minimal amounts of fat, cholesterol, and sugar can help considerably.

Even if your audiogram shows normal hearing, it’s important to protect it while in loud environments. For example, wear earplugs at your child’s school concert or noise-cancelling headphones while on an airplane. Taking these steps preserves your good hearing and can also improve your tinnitus symptoms.

Exercising and reducing stress as much as possible are two more things you can do for tinnitus relief. With the cause of some cases of tinnitus tied to low blood flow to the ears, exercise is a simple thing that can improve blood flow and reduce discomfort. Meditating, walking in nature, and practicing breathing exercises can all help to eliminate or at least reduce the way that stress impacts your body.

Additionally, new and advanced hearing devices known as “hearables” may be an option for relief from the symptoms of Tinnitus and conditions like Meniere’s Disease. These devices enable users to simultaneously stream sound therapy apps or music, while controlling the volume levels of various frequencies of sound from the surrounding physical environment. While not a cure for tinnitus, the end result can be a degree of freedom from the isolation and anxiety of trying to cope with a constant barrage of unwanted noises.

How to Recognize Tinnitus in Children

Suffering from tinnitus is challenging enough as an adult. If you suspect your child also has it, recognizing the symptoms and seeking immediate treatment is essential. Some signs to look for include:

  • Anxiety
  • Behavioral concerns
  • Easily distracted
  • Frequent rubbing of the ears
  • Irritability
  • Poor performance in school

Keep in mind that most kids don’t have the maturity or communication skills to describe what they’re experiencing with tinnitus. It’s up to you as a parent to do a bit of detective work to uncover what’s really going on with your child. Before you resort to punishing your son or daughter for poor behavior, consider whether a medical condition could be contributing to it. Be sure to schedule an appointment with an audiologist if you recognize any of these symptoms. Additionally, be aware that tinnitus is just as common in children as it is in adults.

Some children are fortunate enough to outgrow tinnitus with minimal or no intervention. Others develop psychological issues like anxiety or depression because of it. You know your child best, so be sure to monitor him or her for signs of distress or needing other types of intervention.

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