earChristina, a Hormonology newsletter subscriber, wrote to me about a problem she has: Every cycle, she experiences ringing in her ears (tinnitus) during her premenstrual week.

I can sympathize because I have an annoying high-pitched ear ringing, too. (Likely due to listening to way too many loud bands in the cramped quarters of NYC’s CBGBs in the 1980s.)

But, it wasn’t until Christina mentioned how her tinnitus flares up premenstrually that I paid more attention to my own ear-ringing. And, what do you know–like Christina, my ear-ringing worsens premenstrually, too.

So, I did a little sleuthing to find out if there’s a link. And, sure enough, researchers have studied hearing disorders and how they relate to the menstrual cycle. According to two studies I found (this one and this one), it’s believed that fluid retention or blood flow changes in the inner ear as a result of hormone fluctuations during the premenstrual phase result in a higher likelihood of tinnitus.

If you get mild or temporary ringing in your ears that isn’t severe enough to require medication, here are a few pill-free remedies to try to help you deal with the nagging buzz:

Distract yourself: When you start to notice a whine, hiss or beep in your ear, do something that absorbs your attention, such as playing a video game or throwing a ball to your dog. Distracting yourself from the sound can help you reduce your focus on it, so you notice it less, research shows.

Talk therapy and crashing waves: Dutch researchers found that folks who participated in cognitive behavioral therapy designed to help cope with tinnitus symptoms and listened to soothing nature sounds, such as crashing waves, when ringing started were less bothered by the condition.

Meditation: For some folks, mindful meditation helps you tune out the noise by training your brain to put less emphasis on it.

Keep up your caffeine: If you’re a regular coffee or tea drinker, keep in mind that if you cut back on your usual dose or quit cold turkey, tinnitus symptoms tend to worsen, according to several studies, such as this one.

Have tinnitus and take hormone birth control? This study found that women who take hormone birth control that contains both estrogen and progesterone have a higher risk of developing tinnitus due to the hormones disrupting delicate fluid balances within the inner ear. If you’ve noticed this problem, talk with your doctor about it.

Surprising fact: Did you know one form of tinnitus causes people to hear full songs in their head?

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[Photo: Alberto ….]

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