There are few things in this world as annoying as a constant ringing sound in one or both ears. I know because I’ve experienced tinnitus, as it’s called, in my right ear for the past four years. It seems to come and go, and I suppose I’ve adjusted to it, but for many people it’s truly unbearable.

In fact, there are more people than you might think affected by this auditory phenomenon. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, over 50 million Americans experience some form of tinnitus. Fortunately, only 10% of sufferers of tinnitus need professional help. For the rest of us, we have to learn to live with it, because as of right now, there’s no cure. All that we can do is to learn to make it less unpleasant.

Seeing a physician and zeroing on the cause can be a good first step. Tinnitus has a variety of potential causes such as regular exposure to loud noise over time, heavy ear wax buildup, side effects of certain medications, infections and tumors. Any one of these can result in damage to the hair cells in the cochlea. A very small number of people with tinnitus discover that they have Meniere’s disease, which is an inner ear disorder.

If you’ve eliminated any serious medical problems as the cause of your tinnitus, the next step is to decide among the many approaches available which might help you to address the ringing sound. Some of these include cognitive behavioral therapy, tinnitus retraining therapy, biofeedback, acupuncture and hearing aids. I won’t go into those approaches here, except to say that one or more of them might offer some relief and therefore could be worth investigating. For our purposes, I will present some simple, no-cost or low-cost tips to help you cope with tinnitus.

Music: Listening to background music can help mask the ringing sound. It allows your mind to focus on something else and gives you a break from the irritation often associated with tinnitus.

White noise machine or fan: While it may be nice to sleep in silence, it’s not possible for those who are living with a constant noise in their heads. Therefore, investing in a white noise machine or using a fan can help you sleep.

Homeopathic ear drops: There are some inexpensive homeopathic drops on the market that are supposed to be beneficial to those of us who suffer from tinnitus. You can purchase the drops online or in most drug stores.

Turmeric: This wondrous spice is an anti-inflammatory, among other things, and may reduce the pressure in the ear enough to provide some relief.

Stress reduction: Feeling anxious or worried will cause blood pressure to rise, which can amplify the sound in your ears. Finding ways to keep the stress down will prevent the tinnitus from getting worse and may even improve it a bit.

No ear buds: There are a number of websites out there that highly recommend that tinnitus sufferers should not use ear buds. Instead, it is better to use the type of headphones that cover the ears.

So, as you can see, there is a large range of approaches to the help with the nagging ringing sound that plagues so many people. If you want a deeper dive into the latest news about tinnitus, you can head on over to the American Tinnitus Association.