Ringing in the ears, or Tinnitus, effects millions of Americans (see how tinnitus affects daily life). It predominantly plagues those who experience constant exposure to loud noises, such as veterans of the military and workers that use heavy equipment and machinery. It can also be caused by cardiovascular diseases, jaw misalignment, head and neck trauma, medications, and wax buildup.

Because tinnitus can be symptom of something else, it’s important that it always be evaluated by a physician. Initial evaluation will include questions about your health history, along with a complete physical examination, especially of the head and neck. This is typically followed by a hearing test to see if there is any damage to the hearing.

Treatment of tinnitus depends upon the cause. If your tinnitus is caused by an underlying condition, then the ringing should stop once therapy starts. However, if the tinnitus is noise induced, then there is no cure. To mask the bothersome ringing, incorporate some type of background noise whenever it’s quiet. For example, a fan or a radio is great for falling asleep, as it provides a distraction from the ringing, as well as block out the noise.

Since most cases of tinnitus are unfix-able, it’s crucial that preventative measure be taken. The best precaution against tinnitus is the avoidance of loud noises. If this is impossible, do everything you can to protect your hearing by wearing earplugs or earmuffs. Limit your usage of headphones to listen to music to further preserve the health of your ears. If you’re interested, learn more by reading this overview of tinnitus so you are aware of your options and the basics.