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Ringing in the Ears (Tinnitus) (cont.)

Prevention

You may be able to prevent ringing in the ears if you:

  • Limit or avoid exposure to loud noises, such as music, power tools, gunshots, and industrial machinery.
    • Wear protective earplugs or earmuffs if you cannot avoid loud noises. Do not use wadded-up tissue or cotton balls. These do not protect adequately against loud noises, especially the more dangerous high frequencies, and they may become lodged in the ear canal.
    • Be careful when using stereo headphones. If music is so loud that others can hear it clearly or you can't hear other sounds around you, the volume is too high.
  • Cut back on or stop drinking alcohol and beverages containing caffeine.
  • Do not smoke or use smokeless tobacco products. Nicotine use may cause tinnitus by reducing blood flow to the structures of the ear. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise may prevent tinnitus because it improves blood flow to the structures of the ear. For more information, see the topic Fitness.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Tinnitus occurs more frequently in obese adults. For more information, see the topic Weight Management.

Preparing For Your Appointment

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:

  • When did your tinnitus start?
  • Have you ever had tinnitus before? How old were you when you first had problems with tinnitus?
  • Is the tinnitus in one or both ears? Do you feel like the noise is inside your head?
  • How would you describe your tinnitus?
    • Is it high-pitched or low-pitched?
    • Is it constant, or does it come and go?
    • Is it steady, or does it pulsate? If it pulsates, is it in time with your heartbeat or is it irregular with no steady rhythm?
    • Do you hear roaring, clicking, or blowing noises?
    • Does it change when you swallow or yawn?
  • Have you noticed any hearing loss?
  • Have you had a recent injury to the ear?
  • Have you recently been involved in a motor vehicle accident that set off the air bag?
  • Do you have any other symptoms of a nervous system problem, such as numbness, weakness, or loss of coordination?
  • Do you have frequent headaches or temporomandibular (TM) pain?
  • Do you have any symptoms of vertigo?
  • Have you recently lost 20 lb (9 kg) or more?
  • What prescription and nonprescription medicines are you currently taking?
    • How long have you taken these medicines?
    • Have you recently started taking any new medicines?
    • Have you increased your dose of any medicines?
    • Did you ever use streptomycin, gentamicin, or other ear medicines in the past?
  • Do you have any health risks?

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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