Do you hear a constant ringing in your ears? Or maybe a whooshing, roaring or hissing? This perception of sound without any external stimulus is known as tinnitus, and it affects around 15 to 20 percent of the population.
Tinnitus isn’t a medical condition itself, however. It’s a symptom of an underlying problem like hearing loss or trauma to the ear. While there currently is no cure for tinnitus, there are a number of ways that you can manage your tinnitus. These tips for living with tinnitus are designed to both help you cope and also fully enjoy your life.
Immediate tinnitus relief may be as simple as turning on the radio. Adding more noise may seem counterintuitive, but being in a quietquite environment means you’re more likely to focus on tinnitus-related sounds. Adding in some background noise like soft music or nature sounds will help distract you from the ringing.
Stress and anxiety can make your tinnitus worse, so it’s important to minimize their effects as much as possible. You can use techniques like deep breathing, mindfulness, meditation or yoga to relax and treat your tinnitus. Similarly, regular exercise helps as a stress buster and boosts your overall wellness. Your tinnitus treatment doesn’t necessarily need to be high-impact, though. You may find that a simple walk outside can help alleviate the stress and tension caused by your tinnitus
Some people report a correlation between their diet and their tinnitus symptoms. Though the science is not yet settled, there is a chance that consuming alcohol, nicotine, caffeine or high-sugar foods may have an impact on how you experience your tinnitus. If you suspect this may be the case, try removing the possible troublemaker from your diet for a couple of weeks.
A specific kind of tinnitus―pulsatile tinnitus―is closely connected to the blood vessels. High blood pressure can make symptoms of this type of tinnitus more noticeable. Food choices, along with regular exercise, can help to lower blood pressure and the severity of pulsatile tinnitus symptoms.
There are several therapeutic options to help minimize tinnitus symptoms and their impact on your life. Behavioral therapies target your emotional reaction to tinnitus and aim to eliminate negative emotional responses like anger or depression. The most popular of these therapies is called cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT for short. It’s designed to help eliminate negative thought patterns and can lead to an increase in overall quality of life. Other behavioral therapy techniques used to treat tinnitus include acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), tinnitus activities treatment (TAT), tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) and progressive tinnitus management (PTM).
Sound therapy is the use of external sounds to treat tinnitus symptoms. Generally, there are two different approaches to utilizing sound therapy for tinnitus. Masking is the use of sound to cover up or drown out tinnitus symptoms, and habituation is the use of sound―often in combination with behavioral therapy―to retrain the brain to ignore tinnitus.
Hearing aids with tinnitus masking are one of the most common and effective sound masking devices. Even without tinnitus masking features, however, some patients report that using hearing aids normally lessens the severity of their tinnitus. If you don’t require hearing aids, you may want to consider one of the many commercially available, dedicated sound masking devices or apps that are available. These devices generally utilize calming sounds or a type of white, pink or brown noise to cover up tinnitus symptoms.
Several organizations run tinnitus-related support groups all across the country, some even online. By connecting with other people living with tinnitus you can get perspective on your condition, stay on top of the latest treatment options and find emotional support. Consider searching out a support group in your community; it’s quite common to find strength in numbers when you’re dealing with health issues that impact your day-to-day life.
If you experience tinnitus’re one of the 20 million or so Americans living with tinnitus, don’t hesitate to book an appointment speak with your doctor or hearing instrumenta Miracle-Ear hearing specialist today. By seeking expert medical advice and forming a personal tinnitus treatment plan, you can learn how to live as fully as possible with tinnitus.