Learn how to deal with tinnitus

January 9, 2014

Q. Any suggestions for dealing with tinnitus?

Most tinnitus - a symptom, not a disease - comes from damage to the microscopic endings of the hearing nerve in the inner ear. People who suffer from tinnitus hear phantom noises that include not just ringing but whistling, hissing, buzzing, roaring and clicking. Tinnitus is most common in people over 65.

Besides treatments such as hearing aids, drugs and therapy, there are techniques for dealing with tinnitus. Here are some:

Music. Many people find focusing on music helps them ignore their tinnitus.

Noise. Avoid noise, which can make your tinnitus worse. If you can’t escape a noisy environment, wear ear plugs.

Salt. Cut your salt intake; excess salt impedes blood circulation. Good circulation can help relieve tinnitus.

Blood pressure. High blood pressure can affect tinnitus. Get your pressure checked.

Stimulants. Stay away from coffee, tea, colas and nicotine.

Exercise. This improves circulation.

Fatigue. Get enough rest.

Stress. Stress can intensify tinnitus. Try relaxation techniques.

Q. Is it possible to find out what the chances are of having a heart attack?

There is a calculator that tells you what the odds are of having a heart attack in the next 10 years. The calculator is for adults 20 or over who do not have heart disease or diabetes. You can find this calculator online at:

The risk-assessment tool is based upon the Framingham Heart Study, a joint project of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and Boston University. The objective of the Framingham Heart Study, begun in 1948, was to identify the common characteristics that contribute to cardiovascular disease, which affects the heart and blood vessels.

The calculator asks seven questions: your age, gender, total cholesterol, HDL level, whether you smoke, systolic blood pressure (the first number), and whether you are taking medication for blood pressure. You plug in your numbers and the calculator generates your odds as a percentage.

Q. Do you think an annual physical is really necessary?

Regular health checkups are important. How often you get one depends on your condition.

Let me put it to you this way: How often do you have a mechanic check your new car? How many times do you visit the garage with a car that’s cranked over 100,000 miles? If you’re over 65, get regular physical exams even when you feel great. You can read about the federal guidelines for physical exams at the two following web pages. These are for people over the age of 65.

The guidelines for women are at: The guidelines for men are at: