Tinnitus is a symptom, not a condition in itself, characterized by ringing or other noise in the ear. Although it can be frustrating, tinnitus is rarely serious, nor does it usually indicate a serious health problem. Treatment of tinnitus involves treating the underlying condition. You also may find relief from relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing.
Tinnitus is a fairly common problem and is usually a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, exposure to loud noise, abnormal bone growth in the ear or blockages of the ear canal caused by a buildup of earwax. Other less common causes of tinnitus include Meniere's disease; depression and stress; temperomandibular joint, or TMJ, disorders; and head and neck injuries. Tinnitus can be both a short-term and long-term symptom, and it may become more pronounced with age.
The most effective treatment for tinnitus is to treat the underlying condition. If tinnitus is short-term, such as a case resulting from short-term exposure to loud a loud concert, it should go away on its own. Similarly, the removal of earwax or changing a medication you take that may be causing the condition also can resolve tinnitus. Long-term tinnitus caused by unresolvable underlying conditions, chronic stress or depression or long-term hearing loss may not be able to be cured, but it can be mediated with the use of hearing aids, white noise machines and masking or retraining devices, which, worn in the ear, cover up or help you become accustomed to the noise. Breathing exercises may be an effective complementary treatment, especially in cases where tinnitus is caused or worsened by stress or depression.
Tinnitus, even if it's not directly caused by stress, can be worsened by stress. The practice of deep breathing is an effective method of relieving stress, and it can help you take your mind off your tinnitus. If tinnitus makes it difficult to concentrate or sleep, practicing deep breathing may help you refocus or feel calm enough to get to sleep. A simple breathing exercise for relaxation can be performed several times a day anywhere you happen to be. Sit in a comfortable position on the floor with your legs crossed or in a chair. Keep your spine straight but allow your shoulders to relax. Close your mouth and take a deep inhale through your nose, slightly constricting the muscles in your throat so that your breath makes an audible sound. Allow your belly to fill with air as you inhale. Exhale slowly in the same manner, making the same audible noise in the back of your throat and contracting your abdominal muscles so that your navel pulls in toward your spine. Continue breathing in this manner slowly and evenly for five to 30 minutes or until you feel fully relaxed.
Deep breathing should be used only as an adjunct treatment for tinnitus. Consult your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause of your tinnitus. In some cases, tinnitus may be a sign of a serious underlying condition. Other relaxation techniques, such as massage and yoga, also may be helpful in alleviating tinnitus. Avoid things that may worsen your tinnitus, including nicotine, alcohol and exposure to loud noises.
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