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Silencing the Ring: Proven Strategies for Tinnitus Relief

Back in January of this 12 months, I used to be sitting on the couch with my family, watching a movie. Suddenly, my ears popped, and I heard a loud ringing, just like the ear ringing you would possibly experience after leaving a loud rock show. 



I wasn’t alarmed by this. Random ear rings like this had hit me before. They sometimes went away entirely in a number of seconds.

The loudness of the ear ring faded away, but as a substitute of silence, there was a faint, tinny buzzing sound between my ears that stuck around. I could even form of feel the thrill of the sound inside my head. 

A number of hours later, the buzzing sound was still there. As an alternative of drifting off to sleep in silence, I could only think concerning the electrical hum inside my head as I lay in bed. I didn’t sleep thoroughly that night.

Once I woke up within the morning, the thrill was still there. With a sinking feeling, I recognized what it meant: I had tinnitus. 

I also knew that tinnitus isn’t curable. When you get it, you could have it for all times. No surgery or pill could make it go away. 

I made an appointment with an audiologist here on the town just to verify my self-diagnosis. At the tip of the consultation, she told me, “Well, you could have tinnitus. It’s not dangerous. There’s not much you’ll be able to do about it except learn to live with it.”

Over the following few days, the electrical buzzing sound in my head kept on buzzing. Throughout the day, it wasn’t much of an issue. Being busy with work and life distracted me from it. Nonetheless, after I was working in silence like I often do while writing, the buzzing noise could be a nuisance. I began working with classical music playing.

The buzzing became an actual problem at night after I was attempting to sleep. There was no escaping it as I lay quietly in my bed. It drove me absolutely bonkers. My sleep really took a success there for some time. 

I began spending hours day by day online researching what to do about my tinnitus. Along with webpages of medical advice, there are also lots of forums on the market where people lament the best way tinnitus has ruined their lives and the seeming hopelessness of the situation. Reading these threads would just depress me. “Well,” I told Kate after gorging on a few of these forum postings, “I’m doomed to being distracted while working and never sleeping well again for the remainder of my life.”

Then, sooner or later, I got here across a YouTube channel run by audiologist Ben Thompson that’s all about helping people manage their tinnitus. Ben’s videos were straightforward but, more importantly, hopeful. While he acknowledges that there’s no cure for tinnitus, he hits home the incontrovertible fact that it is treatable. You’ll be able to do things to cut back the perception of tinnitus in your head. 

I began using a few of Ben’s suggestions. After a month or so, I began noticing my tinnitus less and fewer. It’s still there; my brain has just learned to disregard it. I rarely notice it in the course of the day and may work in silence again, and it doesn’t hassle me anymore after I’m attempting to sleep at night.

I’ll have the occasional flare-up where the tinnitus becomes really noticeable for a day or two, but then it quiets back down. 

I do know I’m not the one guy on the market who’s fighting tinnitus. Men who work in loud environments like factories and construction sites are liable to developing tinnitus. Tinnitus is the primary service-oriented disability amongst U.S. military veterans, a big percentage of whom are men. 

I hopped on the horn with Dr. Ben Thompson to debate tinnitus and what to do about it. His approach helped me with my tinnitus. Perhaps it would help yours, too.

What Exactly Is Tinnitus and What Causes It?

“Tinnitus is a phantom sound that only the person experiencing it could hear,” Ben told me. “It’s the perception of an internal noise, reminiscent of ringing, buzzing, or electrical noise, that seems to originate from inside the ear or the auditory brain. This perception occurs even when there is no such thing as a external sound present.” So tinnitus is a subjective experience. 

The loudness and sound of tinnitus will vary from individual to individual. In some individuals, like myself, you would possibly even “feel” the tinnitus inside your head. Metallica drummer and tinnitus-sufferer Lars Ulrich described his tinnitus as a scratch inside your head you could’t itch. That completely described my tinnitus when it was at its worst.

Tinnitus could be classified into differing kinds based on its underlying causes. In line with research conducted by a German ENT physician, Dr. Pawel Jastreboff, 80% of tinnitus cases could be categorized into three subtypes: cochlear, somatic, and stress-induced:

Cochlear Tinnitus: The sort of tinnitus is directly related to changes in hearing loss. It is commonly related to damage to the hair cells within the cochlea, which is liable for converting sound vibrations into electrical signals that the brain can interpret.

Exposure to loud noises, whether from live shows, construction equipment, or firearms, can damage the fragile hair cells within the inner ear. This damage can result in hearing loss and subsequently trigger tinnitus symptoms. Hearing loss is a giant driver of tinnitus. It’s why the condition is a giant issue amongst veterans and those that have worked in construction. 

While hearing loss is a major explanation for tinnitus, Dr. Thompson emphasized you could still develop tinnitus without hearing loss. Some viruses and bacterial infections could cause cochlear tinnitus. Some individuals who contracted COVID have reported developing tinnitus. 

Somatic Tinnitus: Somatic tinnitus is commonly linked to the jaw, TMJ, upper neck conditions, posture, or dental issues. It’s brought on by the physical movement or dysfunction of those areas, which may affect the auditory system and trigger tinnitus symptoms.

Stress-Induced Tinnitus: Stress can have a major impact on tinnitus. In lots of cases, individuals who experience stress or emotional turmoil for a protracted period may develop tinnitus. The precise mechanisms behind this subtype are still being studied, but it surely is believed to be related to the body’s physiological response to emphasize. “For these people, often for 3 to 6 months leading as much as the onset of tinnitus, there was lots of disorder or stress of their life,” Ben told me. 

I reckon my tinnitus developed attributable to hearing loss and possibly COVID. In highschool, I’d go to lots of punk rock shows at American Legion Halls and, like a dope, stand right next to the speakers with none ear protection. I also spent several years working at Jamba Juice, making smoothies with a row of loud blenders. My two bouts with COVID in the course of the pandemic may then have exacerbated things and tipped me over the sting to developing full-on tinnitus.

Treating and Managing Tinnitus

In the event you’re experiencing tinnitus, it’s essential to do not forget that there may be hope for relief. While there is no such thing as a known cure, various treatment options can be found to assist manage and reduce its impact in your each day life. 

The First Step: Accurate Diagnosis

Step one in effectively managing tinnitus is to acquire an accurate diagnosis. Consulting with an audiologist or a healthcare skilled specializing in tinnitus is crucial in determining the underlying explanation for your tinnitus and developing an appropriate treatment plan.

Habituation to Tinnitus: Sound Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

While you’ll be able to’t eliminate tinnitus, you’ll be able to train your brain to stop pondering of it as a threat to your safety and to start out ignoring it. This process known as habituation. 

Because of neuroplasticity, your brain ignores things on a regular basis. Take your nose, for instance. 

Your nose is definitely in your visual field. If you look out, it is best to see it. But you don’t. 

Why not? Because your brain has learned to disregard it.

In the event you’ve been on a road trip where your windshield has collected a bunch of splattered bugs, you’ve likely experienced habituation. Your windshield is roofed with dead bugs, but you retain driving without being bothered by them because your brain filters them out so you’ll be able to stay focused on the road. 

Ben Thompson and his team of audiologists mix two treatments to assist tinnitus-suffers habituate to their tinnitus the identical way your brain habituates you to the dead bugs in your windshield: sound therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Sound Therapy

Sound therapy involves using external sounds to assist mask or distract from the perception of tinnitus. The goal of sound therapy is twofold: 1) to offer immediate relief by reducing the prominence of tinnitus, and a pair of) to advertise long-term habituation.

Various sound therapy options can be found, starting from wearable devices resembling hearing aids to smartphone apps and dedicated sound machines. These devices emit soothing sounds, reminiscent of white noise, nature sounds, or gentle melodies.

The important thing to successful sound therapy is finding the proper balance between the external sound and the perceived tinnitus sound. The aim will not be to completely mask the tinnitus. You continue to need to have the option to listen to your tinnitus a bit. 

“The goal of sound therapy is to retrain the brain in order that the constant sound of the tinnitus will not be perceived as a threat,” Ben explained. “To desensitize yourself to the tinnitus noise, you continue to need to concentrate on it. Ideal sound therapy gives you sufficient distraction in order that the tinnitus doesn’t hassle you while allowing your brain to habituate to it and ultimately lower the perception of the tinnitus.”

Sound therapy played a major role in my tinnitus management. I downloaded the free “ReSound Relief” app on my phone. It means that you can create quite a lot of soundscapes to mask your tinnitus. I’d play it in the course of the day while I worked in silence. Crickets combined with crackling fire is my go-to tinnitus sound mask. I made sure to set the amount in order that I could still barely hear my tinnitus over the sound.

The sound therapy was incredibly helpful at night. I began wearing this Bluetooth headband with earbuds to bed that piped in my cricket and crackling campfire noise. Again, I made sure to set the amount in order that I could still barely hear my tinnitus. I got easy relief and will start going to sleep more easily while allowing my brain to habituate to the tinnitus. 

After three months of consistent sound therapy, I hardly notice my tinnitus, even without the sound therapy. Ben has found that almost all tinnitus victims will experience immediate relief with sound therapy. It may possibly take as much as six months to a 12 months for habituation to occur. 

Ben and his audiologists could have patients who are suffering from severe tinnitus wear sound therapy devices just about 24/7. The devices seem like hearing aids and are continually piping in a soothing noise to distract the person from their tinnitus while helping them habituate to it. You’ll want to set the audio level on sound therapy devices appropriately for them to be effective. If you wish to go down this route, connect with an audiologist trained in treating tinnitus with sound therapy devices. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Ben combines sound therapy with cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of talk therapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors related to tinnitus. 

“Research does support that there’s this link between a part of our brain called the limbic system and tinnitus,” Ben told me. “Tinnitus isn’t actually a physical threat to you, but our brain latches onto this tinnitus sound, treating it like a potentially dangerous sound, just like the sound of a smoke alarm telling you there’s a hearth. We then get hyper-focused on the tinnitus, which may make the tinnitus seem louder and more intrusive.” 

The goal of CBT is to reframe your mental perception of your tinnitus. As an alternative of seeing it as a threat, you only see it as a neutral thing in your life you could do something about. 

While I didn’t do formal CBT with a counselor or audiologist, I applied CBT principles to myself. At any time when my tinnitus got really noticeable, and I began freaking out, I just reminded myself that my tinnitus wasn’t a threat. Visualizing my tinnitus as bugs on a windshield looked as if it would help probably the most in reframing my relationship with tinnitus. I’d then do things to assist me manage my tinnitus like listening to my cricket sounds. Being proactive about my tinnitus helped me move from helpless mode to high-agency mode, reducing the stress I felt about having tinnitus. 

Managing Tinnitus Flare-ups

While I rarely notice my tinnitus anymore, some days it flares up and gets really loud and noticeable. I asked Ben what causes that. 

“Essentially the most common explanation for flare-ups is stress within the central nervous system,” Ben said. “That may very well be related to a poor night’s sleep, being sick, or work or family stress.”

Once I look back at my flare-ups, they sometimes occur after I’ve got loads happening in my life and I’m not sleeping well. 

The excellent news is that these flare-ups are frequently temporary, and things typically settle back down. Once I experience tinnitus spikes, I attempt to do things to relax the heck out, like getting more sleep, deep respiratory, hanging out with friends, or sitting in my sauna. 

I also start using my sound therapy again each in the course of the day and night during flare-ups. It provides temporary relief so I can get on with my work and go to sleep.

My tinnitus spikes often last a number of days, after which my tinnitus goes back to being hardly perceptible. I stop using the sound therapy when that happens. 

There Is Hope for Tinnitus

Tinnitus sucks. Once I first got it, it really sent me right into a despondent spiral. 

There’s no cure for it. There aren’t any supplements you’ll be able to take to make it go away. 

But it is vitally treatable and manageable. 

Because of coming across Ben’s content on Treble Health, I hardly notice my tinnitus today. 

There’s hope for tinnitus victims. It’s going to take time and patience, but you’ll be able to get your tinnitus under control. It may possibly eventually be like bugs on a windshield. It would never go away, but it surely doesn’t have to forestall you from getting where you wish to go and even having fun with the ride.

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