I woke up with a jolt this morning when I heard bells clanging, I turned to look at my husband and he seems to be comfortably asleep. The clanging hasn’t stopped just yet, but it hasn’t increased either. The constant clanging and banging that I hear, however, has begun to make my head throb with aching pain.
The ringing in my ears has been a constant companion these past few days.
I slowly get up and grope for my slippers, I am determined to know what’s wrong with me. As I find my way in the dark, a sudden epiphany dawned on me: what if I’m losing it? What if I am losing my hearing? What’s wrong with me? Has my blood pressure spiked? I’m already 55, and these things that I hear are nowhere close to normal.
I was almost in a panic. I was lost, scared and didn’t know what to do. I sat myself in the kitchen with a glass of cool water; I turned on the radio and played a soft music the country station is playing. For about five minutes, I just sat there absentmindedly listening to the slow hum of Shania Twain.
And as quickly as the ringing came, it was gone.
That same day, my husband drove me to see an audiologist. He said if I had begun entertaining “what if” thoughts and on the verge of panic, it was time for me to see a specialist. After a series of blood tests, laboratory exams, blood pressure tests and hearing exercises, I was told that I have tinnitus– a condition wherein one hears sounds like ringing, buzzing, whooshing and clanging in one or both ears, in the absence of any external noise. Often times, the sound seems to emanate from inside our heads, and they appear when everything is so quiet, they become apparent. The ringing in the ears is also known as “Head Tinnitus”.
I learned that tinnitus is the first signs of hearing loss. My audiologist informed me that when we begin to lose our hearing, we start to hear some low and intermittent buzzing and ringing. Like a bee flying frequently nearby or a faraway telephone that nobody picks up.
He also said that although tinnitus is quite annoying and stressful, it does not pose a direct threat to my life. However, apart from the possibility of hearing loss, tinnitus often signals an underlying condition. Like a siren going off early at the slightest detection of danger. Tinnitus can be caused by a series of possibilities: impacted ear wax, ear infection, damaged ear drums, diabetes, circulatory and heart problems and increased blood pressure.
When my laboratory results came back, everything was normal except for my blood pressure: I had 150/110. My audiologist grinned and told me there’s the possible culprit. I was introduced to Dr. A, a cardiologist so I could take more exams and check why blood pressure has started to climb. Could it be normal when we age?
Research has found that about 50% of Tinnitus cases were caused by underlying conditions like heart and circulatory problems. Dr. A, has prescribed me medications for my blood pressure, which I should take twice a day for three months. Additionally, he points out, that I need to make some good changes in my lifestyle.
To start off, my eating habits should be monitored and controlled. I am to avoid pork when possible, excessive caffeine, load up on green, leafy vegetables, whole wheat grains, eggs, and poultry. It wouldn’t hurt if I substitute my red meat with a good poultry and some beef.
He also recommends only a glass of red wine a day, and to drink more of fresh fruit juices and water instead of tonic water or soda.
My daily morning walks should be done for about thirty minutes for a good cardio exercise. When my blood pressure begins to stabilize, he said, the tinnitus will start to fade. It is important that I manage my blood pressure, thus, improve my health and in turn manage the tinnitus.
I’m on a mission to conquer the ringing in my ears, and I got a chance to become healthier and feel younger. I’m starting today, and so can you!