Tips for Managing Tinnitus

Tips for Managing Tinnitus

Are you experiencing an uncomfortable or annoying buzzing in your ears? That’s called tinnitus, and it can make you stressed. Tinnitus also affects your concentration and your sleep. There are a few things you can do to reduce your experience of tinnitus, so here are some of the best tips for managing tinnitus.

What Exactly Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a ringing or buzzing sound you hear in your ears. It’s not a sound in the environment around you, so none of your friends can hear it. You’ll experience tinnitus when the cells in your ear send signals to your brain even though there isn’t anything making that sound around you.

Each person will experience tinnitus differently, and tinnitus can be experienced as:

  • Buzzing
  • Ringing
  • Whooshing
  • Hissing
  • Squealing
  • Humming
  • Whistling
  • Pulsing
  • Clicking

Tinnitus can be in one or both of your ears. Tinnitus sometimes comes and goes at random, or it can be a constant sound that appears the moment other sounds around you stop. You’ll probably notice tinnitus the most when you’re in a quiet place, such as in bed at night.

Tinnitus is usually caused by damage to the cells in your inner ear. These cells take sound waves and convert them to electrical impulses that are sent to the brain. When the cells are damaged you can’t hear all the sounds around you. Not only that, but the damaged cells can sometimes send erratic signals to the brain. Your brain interprets this as sound, causing tinnitus.

Visit Your Doctor

If you’ve been noticing tinnitus, visit your doctor. They’ll check for any signs of an ear infection or a buildup of earwax that could be causing your tinnitus. Antibiotics can treat an infection and stop the tinnitus, or removing the ear wax can put an end to the ringing or buzzing noise.

Ask your doctor to review your medications and look for any that can trigger tinnitus. A number of medications can cause tinnitus, so make sure your medications aren’t hurting your ears.

Sound Therapy

One of the best ways to manage your tinnitus is with sound therapy. If you’ve turned on the TV to mask your tinnitus, or you sleep with a noisy fan in the corner, you have a good idea of how sound therapy works. 

Many of our top hearing aids offer tinnitus management programs based on sound therapy. These programs are set to perfectly mask your experience of tinnitus. You can choose to play white noise, pink noise, or nature sounds. Some programs will even allow you to play your own music. When your tinnitus is very noticeable, all you have to do is turn on the program to have your tinnitus fade into the background. Your brain will pay attention to the sounds, and you won’t notice your tinnitus. 

Reducing Stress

Tinnitus can lead to sleep problems, frustration, irritability, and stress. When you can’t get away from the sound of tinnitus your stress levels will rise. As you feel more and more stressed, you’ll start to notice your tinnitus even more! That’s why reducing stress is a great way to manage tinnitus. 

You can try a meditation or mindfulness practice to reduce stress, or work with a counselor. You can also practice self-care by doing things that make you feel more relaxed. This could be enjoying a bath while listening to music, making time to go for a walk, or reading a good book.

Treating Hearing Loss

If you have tinnitus there’s a good chance you also have some hearing loss since both tinnitus and hearing loss are caused by damage to the cells in the inner ear. Treating hearing loss is another way to manage tinnitus. When you treat your hearing loss by wearing hearing aids, your ears will hear more of the sounds around you. 

When you hear all the subtle sounds in your environment, this can help mitigate your tinnitus. Hearing aids also make it easier to follow conversations. You’ll be able to hear clearly without straining to hear over the sound of your tinnitus.

As you shop for the perfect hearing aids, be sure to ask about hearing aids with tinnitus therapy programs. These programs can help you manage tinnitus, reduce stress, and provide great sound therapy. Contact us today to learn more!

Acupuncture for Hearing Loss & Tinnitus: Does it Really Work?

Acupuncture for Hearing Loss & Tinnitus_ Does it Really Work_

Have you ever had acupuncture treatment? If you have, you might vividly recall your first treatment. Acupuncture is a treatment that is commonly used as a part of the larger medical system of Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM. Walking into a calm and comfortable room with low lighting and often the smell of herbs or aromatherapy, the patient is asked to lie on a table that looks like a massage table. In this comfortable position, the practitioner inserts very tiny needles into the body in precise locations. With these needles in place, the person is asked to relax for a duration of time, allowing the treatment to take effect. After time has elapsed, the practitioner removes the needles one by one, and the person is asked to slowly sit up. The treatment can cause a feeling of slight dizziness or head rush, so the process of returning to regular life needs to be slow and careful. This remarkable treatment has been used for a wide range of conditions ranging from mental maladies to serious physical diseases or recovery from injuries. Some of the many conditions subjected to acupuncture therapy have to do with hearing, as well. Hearing loss, tinnitus, and Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (or SSHL) have all been treated by acupuncture with varying results. First, let’s take a look at how acupuncture is said to work, in general. Then, let’s consider the effects of acupuncture on these hearing-related conditions, including the research that is available to test its effectiveness.

 

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Acupuncture is part of a holistic approach to medical intervention, and it is seldom practiced in isolation of other therapies. Crucial to the expertise behind acupuncture is that the mind does not exist in isolation of the body, nor vice versa, so any medical intervention should consider the connections between them. When the tiny needles are inserted into the body at precise points, they are thought to stimulate a nervous system response. When the nervous system is stimulated by a prick, it can cause a chain reaction of releasing chemicals into the muscles, brain, and spinal cord. The effect is not localized, either. Putting these tiny needles into the body in one location can have an effect elsewhere in the body, because the nervous system is the pathway through which information is passed. These chemicals and hormones can cause healing in ways that are only starting to be understood by Western medicine.

 

What about Acupuncture and Hearing-related Conditions?

Although acupuncture has been remarkably effective as a treatment for a wide range of physical and mental maladies, the jury is still out when it comes to hearing-related conditions. Each type of hearing loss has a different relation with acupuncture. Some reports of effectiveness date back to 1940 when a report claimed that acupuncture was able to cure total deafness! Since that time the reports regarding hearing loss have been inconclusive. Anecdotal reports abound, but controlled scientific studies have been limited. In addition, many of the cases used acupuncture in conjunction with herbal treatments and other drug therapy, so it is difficult to understand if the results are due to acupuncture or other features of treatment.

Results have been more promising when it comes to two other hearing-related conditions: tinnitus and Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (or SSHL). In each case, reports have been promising, and some clinical trials have taken place. Those with tinnitus found a reduction in the volume of background noise that had been plaguing them, and the overall feeling of wellbeing was improved, as well. Similarly, SSHL patients responded quite well to acupuncture. This condition itself is very mysterious, as there is no clear medical or injurious cause of the hearing loss. Those with SSHL find that they wake up with hearing loss or total deafness, or it may come after a sudden “pop” out of nowhere. The loss tends to be in one ear, and doctors are still trying to understand how it comes about. Despite the mystery surrounding SSHL, acupuncture has been remarkably effective, in some cases healing the condition altogether and in others bringing back some hearing ability. Of course, in all these cases further research is necessary to precisely measure the effects of acupuncture.

Meditation Could Help Alleviate Tinnitus

Meditation Could Help Alleviate Tinnitus

Tinnitus, the medical term for a ringing in the ears, is a condition with no known cure. There’s no question – chronic tinnitus can be frustrating. A persistent ringing in the ears can dominate your thoughts and detract from focus. While there isn’t a cure for tinnitus, there are tinnitus treatment options to manage the condition to help make it less prominent in your mind. Among possible solutions, many people are turning towards meditation techniques to provide relief for their tinnitus symptoms.

Recognizing Tinnitus

There are many factors that can contribute to tinnitus, and most involve some damage or restriction in the auditory system. Tinnitus is a malfunctioning of the auditory system, triggering the brain to hear sound where no sound exists. Often these sounds are tonal or ringing, but tinnitus can also take the form of other sorts of sounds such as buzzing and clicking noises.

If you have hearing loss, the occurrence of tinnitus may be especially distracting for you. While other, actual sounds may be muffled or softer, tinnitus noise can dominate your hearing by being the clearest and prominent sound. The best course of action once you’ve recognized it is to pursue treatment that can help you manage tinnitus.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation aspires to help you recognize and accept the subtle sensations of your body and mind. There are many online resources to help you get started with mindfulness meditation, to begin you will simply need a quiet space and a comfortable sitting position.

This meditation involves sitting still and silent and allowing the sensations of the body to come and go. This means not indulging the urge to scratch an itch or shift your seating as well as not allowing your mind to fixate on any single thought. For tinnitus sufferers, the urge to try to alleviate your tinnitus through movement or introducing other sounds may seem overwhelming at first. Don’t worry- over time this meditation can allow you to rest with your tinnitus, observing it for what it is and releasing stress your body carries from tinnitus.

While it is often recommended that you meditate with your eyes closed, many people with tinnitus suggest beginning with your eyes open. Visual observation can help downplay the dominance of tinnitus sound and make you more relaxed throughout the process. By passively observing the tinnitus sounds, even surrendering to them, your body is better able to combat their intrusiveness. Many people have found that mindfulness meditation, though initially challenging, changes the role tinnitus plays in their life and helps them better manage their hearing. Organizations, such as the British Tinnitus Foundation, have even developed mindfulness programs specifically built around tinnitus management.

Guided Meditation

Another form of meditation is guided meditation where the meditation session is led by verbal guidance and soothing sounds to help you pay attention to different aspects of your life and experience. Guided meditation can be used to help focus on a certain element or goal as well as directly reinforce new thought patterns and strategies.

Many people who cope with tinnitus find solace in using guided meditation to help redirect their thoughts and focus. Guided meditation can provide more cues and reminders to help you redirect your mind from fixating on intrusive sounds or disabling thought patterns. A guided meditation path can also help your body find rest and relaxation strategies that you can carry into everyday stressful situations. Using soothing sounds to accompany your meditation may provide the most comfortable path for you, similar to working with white noise patterns to neutralize the tinnitus.

Other Treatments

It usually takes some trial and error to learn what works best for your personal tinnitus. Meditation can help deconstruct stress and relax your mind, helping to make tinnitus more manageable. This may work by itself, or meditation may be one of multiple strategies you employ to cope with tinnitus.

Using a sound generator to reduce the tinnitus you focus on is one of the most popular tinnitus therapies. Many hearing aids can be equipped with personal tinnitus management therapies, including white noise sounds, simple harmonic tones and customizable sound palettes to create your own sound relief. Whatever course of action you pursue, with some trial and error you can find what helps you relieve tinnitus and helps you function every day.

Many cases of tinnitus are linked to hearing loss. To learn more and to schedule a consultation and hearing exam, contact us at Hearing Consultants today.