Tinnitus is something that many people find challenging to manage. For some people, it is ever-present as ringing, buzzing, clicking or hissing in the ear. For others, it comes and goes. It is the perception of sound when there is no external noise.
Tinnitus is not a disease or an illness in itself, but a symptom of an issue with the auditory system. Various things can cause it, the most common of which is noise-induced hearing loss.
There is no cure for it, and in some cases, it can go away by itself. However, there are plenty of things that you can do to manage tinnitus and make life with it more comfortable.
Tinnitus coping strategies
A few coping strategies for tinnitus are:
Hearing aids: In many cases, tinnitus goes hand in hand with hearing loss. As hearing loss progresses, your brain changes the way that it processes sound. Your audiologist can look at having you fitted with a hearing aid to help you to manage your tinnitus. It helps to adjust the volume of external sounds and can help to change the way that your brain hears sounds. Generally, the better that you can hear, the less you notice tinnitus sounds.
Behavioral management: Tinnitus can be linked to high levels of psychological stress. Because of its nature, many people with the condition also have depression, anxiety and insomnia. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can be useful for those that experience these to help them to find ways to manage it and live with it in their lives. Rather than curing tinnitus, CBT can help improve other areas of your life and stop it from being the main focus.
Relaxation strategies: Easier said than done, but as mentioned above, stress can accompany tinnitus. By finding ways to relax and unwind, you might not be able to get rid of the tinnitus, but you can get yourself into a better place mentally to be able to deal with. A clear mind is better equipped to cope with issues. Some people turn to yoga or meditation; others like to participate in mindfulness activities such as coloring or doodling. Even if this does not help with the tinnitus, it will improve the general quality of your life.
Sound: As contradictory as this may seem, sound can help with tinnitus. Background noise allows you to focus your hearing on something external, which takes away the intrusiveness of the tinnitus. What you listen to is entirely up to you; some people like to have the radio on in the background, while others prefer more natural or rhythmic noises, such as the ticking of a clock, nature sounds or a fan whirring. You can purchase CDs or download playlists of rain, whales, the waves and white noise machines are available if it is a problem at night.
Activity: The more you focus on something else, the less you will focus on the tinnitus, so keeping busy can be helpful. Work, hobbies and socializing can take your mind away from it, even for a short time, so if you do not have a hobby, now might be the time to take one up. Combine it with something relaxing such as yoga, or start a high-energy exercise class with a friend. This will also benefit your overall health and well-being and help you to sleep better at night – many people who experience tinnitus struggle to fall and stay asleep.
Personal contact: Tinnitus, and other hearing loss conditions, can leave a person feeling isolated. It is essential to know that you are far from being alone – it is thought that as much as 32% of the American adult population experiences tinnitus. Talking to your family and friends about what you are going through and finding support groups, whether online or in real life, can help you to feel less isolated. You may also find out ways that other people manage tinnitus and find a network of people to turn to when you are struggling. Your audiologist should be able to point you in the right direction.
It is important to remember that what works for one person may not work for the next. If something does not help, do not get disheartened. Try something else, and keep trying until you feel like it is under control and not the main focus of your life.
For more information on tinnitus, hearing loss, or how to manage them, call the Sandia Hearing Aid Center today at 505-715-4387.