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Ringing in the Ears & Sodium Intake

by
author image Elle Paula
Elle Paula has a Bachelor of Science in nutrition from Framingham State College and a certificate in holistic nutrition from the American College of Healthcare Sciences. She is also a licensed aesthetician with advanced training in skincare and makeup. She plans to continue on with her education, complete a master's degree program in nutrition and, ultimately, become a registered dietitian.
Ringing in the Ears & Sodium Intake
A doctor examines the ear of a senior woman. Photo Credit AlexRaths/iStock/Getty Images

Ringing in the ears is medically referred to as tinnitus. It is important to note that tinnitus is not a disease, but rather a symptom of another underlying medical condition. Although tinnitus can cause a great deal of distress, it does not usually indicate a serious condition. According to MayoClinic.com, tinnitus affects one in five people and often worsens with increasing age.

Types

There are two types of tinnitus: subjective and objective. Subjective tinnitus refers to ringing in the ears that can only be heard by the affected individual. It is the most common type of tinnitus and may occur as a result of problems in the outer, middle or inner portion of the ear or problems with the auditory nerves. Objective tinnitus refers to ringing in the ears that can be heard by others, such as when a doctor places a stethoscope near the ear. This type of tinnitus is less common, and may be caused by blood vessel conditions, abnormal muscle contractions or problems with the bones in the inner ears.

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Characteristics

Tinnitus may be described as ringing, clicking, roaring, buzzing or whistling. The noise can vary in pitch from very low to extremely high. MayoClinic.com notes that occasionally the sound can be so loud that it interferes with your ability to hear normal sound. It can affect one or both ears and may be constant or periodically come and go.

Treatment

Treatment for tinnitus focuses on correcting the underlying cause of the condition. Noise suppression techniques may also be used to ease the sounds of tinnitus. Examples of noise suppression techniques include white noise machines, hearing aids and masking devices, which are worn in the ear and produce white noise.

Considerations

According to MayoClinic.com, high blood pressure can make tinnitus more noticeable. Reducing your sodium intake can help reduce your blood pressure. When you eat too much sodium, your body retains water in an effort to maintain fluid and salt balance. Water retention increases blood volume and leads to increased blood pressure. The Food and Nutrition Board recommends consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Adults over the age of 51 or people who already have high blood pressure should consume less than 1,500 mg of sodium daily. According to “Nutrition and You” by Joan Salge Blake, Americans consume more than 3,400 mg of sodium on average every day.

Foods to Avoid

“Nutrition and You” notes that 77 percent of the sodium in the American diet comes from processed foods that use sodium to increase shelf-life. Canned foods and soups contribute the most sodium to the diet. It is important to avoid these processed foods as much as possible. When restricting your sodium intake, it is also important to avoid adding salt to foods and cooking with seasonings that contain salt. Foods that contain naturally occurring sodium include fruits, vegetables, milk, meat, poultry, fish and legumes. These should be your sources of dietary sodium.

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