It’s estimated that over 50 million Americans experience some form of tinnitus. Tinnitus is a condition characterized by buzzing or ringing within the ears. Sometimes this can happen after specific triggers, could happen at definite times throughout the day, or it may be something that is a constant issue. We understand hearing problems can cause a lot of stress and anxiety, but this doesn’t mean that it has to be part of your everyday life. Tinnitus can be a very frustrating condition to live with, which is why visiting with an audiologist may provide you with the tools to cope with it effectively. An audiologist may recommend you treat your condition with a hearing aid, which can offer relief to your problem, but managing tinnitus in your everyday life can be comprised of a few other methods.
Managing your stress
The constant ringing or buzzing in your ears caused by tinnitus can, unsurprisingly, make life stressful on occasion. As stress and anxiety can provide a negative stimulus to a sensitive hearing system, it is important to manage the symptoms associated with stress and anxiety and have this be a priority. Upon diagnosis of a hearing problem, it can be tempting to withdraw, as feelings of isolation upon diagnosis of these sorts of issues are common. But by managing your stress through mindfulness techniques, this can provide a suitable coping method, as well as counseling and other alternative therapies recommended by an audiologist.
Protecting your ears
Many people benefit from using a hearing aid because it can amplify outside noise, but it’s also important to avoid situations that can damage your hearing further. This could mean that you would have to alter your lifestyle accordingly, especially if you go to noisy events like concerts or sports games. Just because tinnitus has been diagnosed, it doesn’t mean that this will stay in the same condition. When appropriate, you should use protective ear wear. Avoiding loud environments where possible will safeguard your ears against additional damage.
Addressing certain lifestyle habits
Looking after yourself is priority number one, and addressing the habits that you know to be negative to your body, such as consumption of alcohol or smoking, can actually have an effect on your hearing. Likewise, a lack of exercise is something that can negatively impact your hearing ability. As regular exercise is beneficial for your body by improving the circulation of blood, this can help tinnitus sufferers as there have been cases linked with low blood supply to the inner ear.
Various therapies, such as tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) are very useful in the fight against tinnitus. There are different aspects of TRT, such as utilizing a device with tinnitus-masking features. that can help the person to gradually tune out the tinnitus. Because TRT can focus on two different aspects, the sound itself, as well as the emotional reaction, the efficacy of dealing with the issue can be dealt with more comprehensively, tackling the problem itself, but also providing strategies for the sufferer in every other way. Using sound therapy to mask the internal sound of tinnitus can help to refocus the person’s attention, providing immediate relief. But what can happen over time is that sound therapy can result in the brain being “retrained” to view the tinnitus sound as something that can be ignored, such as the day-to-day noises we mask automatically. In addition to this, by using specific sounds can help to minimize a hyperactive brain which is believed to be the underlying function of tinnitus.
The other component of tinnitus retraining therapy is to focus on the emotional elements. Because tinnitus can trigger depression and anxiety, this can prove to be a more long-term problem than the actual condition. And this can be done through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which can be done in a group or one-to-one, which then helps to identify specific triggers, as well as instigate lifestyle choices and coping strategies to make the condition more bearable.
As tinnitus can prove to be frustrating for your hearing ability, as well as the emotions, it’s crucial that you speak to an audiologist to identify the best course of therapy for you. As you can see, there are many ways to protect yourself from additional hearing damage caused by tinnitus. If you believe yourself to be suffering from tinnitus or any hearing related problem, you don’t need to suffer in silence. You can contact the San Francisco Hearing Center to speak to a professional and book an appointment with an audiologist who will put you on the right path.