It’s midnight and pitch black. But you’re wide-awake, growing increasingly frustrated that the whistling in your ears won’t let you sleep.

Tinnitus is an unpleasant and intrusive condition. There is unlikely to be one single answer to living with tinnitus, but a number of strategies combined together often nibbles away at the problem, enough to make a considerable positive difference to your ability to enjoy life again.

Depending on the severity, tinnitus can be a difficult condition to live with at all times of day. If your tinnitus has started suddenly, it’s good to see a physician to rule out physical causes of the condition. However, when you’re stuck with tinnitus there are ways of coping that can decrease the impact the malady has on your life.  

#1: Recognize tinnitus is worst at night

In the quiet of the night there are fewer sounds to mask the constant whooshing sound in your ears. Be prepared for this and consider using a white noise machine to provide your own (pleasant) distraction.

White noise can be as simple as running a fan or playing a CD on low volume. Opt for something soothing and repetitive like the sound of falling rain or waves gently breaking on the shore. If your partner is less appreciative of the sounds of nature than you, then look out for special pillows that have a speaker fitted. This allows you to play the white noise at a volume only you can hear, whilst drifting off into a blissful sleep. Sleeping with your head slightly raised on a couple of pillows can help reduce the blood flow to the inner ear, which quiets the noise.

#2: Consult an audiologist

If your hearing isn’t perfect, consulting an audiologist can also provide a way to reduce the impact of tinnitus. When you improve your ability to hear ‘real’ sounds, then the intrusion of tinnitus is less obvious.

Another sound reason to get checked by an audiologist is to look for physical causes of tinnitus. Causes can vary from earwax plugging the ear canal to medical conditions, which need specific treatment.

Audiologists are also able to recommend hearing aids as treatments. These devices can include a tinnitus-masking feature that will help block out the sounds causing you frustration.

#3: Consider counseling

When you’re haunted by phantom sounds, the constant whistling can get you down. Some people benefit from talking to a counselor and learning deep relaxation techniques. Tackling stress is an important way of keeping tinnitus under control and not letting it rule your life. General actions such as getting plenty of sleep, exercise and avoiding strong coffee can also help.

#4: Protect your ears

If you work in a noisy environment or with loud machinery, be sure to wear ear protectors. Noise is a cause of tinnitus, so to prevent further damage utilize ear defenders or other hearing protection.  

Remember, if tinnitus is detrimental to your quality of life, schedule an appointment with an audiologist in your area. The audiologist will be able to diagnose your condition and recommend the best form of treatment.