If you've ever had a ringing in your ears, you have an idea of how annoying it can be. Now imagine how annoying it would be if you never could get rid of the ringing. That is tinnitus.
Tinnitus is the medical term for hearing a sound when there is no external sound causing it. And it's remarkably common - about one-third of people over 55 suffer from it. But it doesn't just affect that age group. It can hit anyone, and it can affect either or both ears.
Fortunately, there are ways to get rid of the ringing naturally. But first, you have to look for a cause. And there are scores of possible causes, including neck or jaw disorders called temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ). This can cause tinnitus because of its effect on muscles and nerves near the ear. Significant earwax buildup can make it even more severe. It could be a complication of a head tumor. And it may even be a side effect of medications. Drugs that list it as a side effect include aspirin, NSAIDs, antidepressants, antimalarials, diuretics, beta-blockers, and antibiotics. So if you suffer from tinnitus, start by looking at the side effects of the medication you're taking. Finding a solution could be that simple.
Exposure to loud noises is a leading cause of tinnitus. In fact, 90% of all tinnitus patients have some level of noise-induced hearing loss. Loud noises harm the tiny hair cells in the inner ear, causing irreversible damage. And repeated exposure can have a cumulative effect on hearing. If you have to raise your voice before others can hear you, the noise around you is too loud.
But a lot of people live and work in loud situations, but never suffer from tinnitus. That's because personal medical problems also can lead to the ringing. Some of the medical conditions that can cause ear noises include high blood pressure, high triglycerides, tumors, anemia, hypothyroidism, various ear diseases, and high blood cholesterol (which can clog the arteries that supply oxygen to the nerves of the inner ear).
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However, there's one condition that can contribute to tinnitus - and your doctor likely won't find it. It's a vitamin B12 deficiency. One study found that 47% of tinnitus sufferers have a B12 deficiency. But the problem is that the reference range for B12 doesn't always work for everyone. Some people who have normal B12 levels can still benefit from taking the vitamin. Start with 50 mcg daily. You can take up 1,000 mcg daily if you find that you need more.
But B12 isn't the only nutrient that can work wonders. Traditional medicine practitioners use ginkgo biloba to treat tinnitus. A few good trials suggest that this herb may, indeed, lower the perceived loudness. But make sure you're using a ginkgo product that contains 24% flavone glycosides or "standardized extract." Take 60-240 mg daily of the standard ginkgo in two divided doses. Ginkgo biloba improves blood flow and nerve function. But talk to a doctor before taking it if you take Coumadin or have a blood disorder.
Finally, consider taking a folic acid supplement. It can help restore hearing and stop the ringing. A good dose is 200 mcg daily.
You can find all of these supplements in your local health food store and online. Or you can buy them in a formula that also contains other powerful nutrients for your ears like Advanced Hearing Formula.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.