Tips for Managing Tinnitus
Tinnitus can be stressful and unpleasant to experience. It describes hearing a specific noise in one or both ears. This noise is most often described as a ringing, buzzing, or clicking sound that can range from being mild to more prominent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 50 million people experience tinnitus. Additionally, 20 million people have chronic tinnitus and 14 to 16 million people seek medical attention for it.
Tinnitus can affect health and wellness in numerous ways. It can contribute to hearing challenges, strain communication, affect sleep, and prevent people from concentrating as well as completing everyday tasks. This can increase irritability, stress, fatigue and much more. Tinnitus is not a condition itself but is a symptom of an underlying condition. In addition to being evaluated by your doctor, there are several strategies you can practice to effectively manage tinnitus. The following tips can provide relief:
Have hearing health evaluated. One of the most common causes of tinnitus is hearing loss. It is estimated that 90% of tinnitus occurs with underlying hearing loss. Nearly 1 in 6 people have some degree of impaired hearing which can be caused by several factors. This includes loud noise, aging, medical conditions, and head injuries. If you experience tinnitus, it is important to have your hearing evaluated by a hearing healthcare specialist. Hearing tests involve a painless and noninvasive process that measures hearing capacities in both ears. This identifies any hearing loss and the degree of impairment you could be experiencing. Once your hearing needs are established, your hearing healthcare provider is able to tailor treatment to specially meet your needs.
Maximize use of hearing aids. Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss. These are electronic hearing devices that are designed to absorb, amplify, and process speech as well as sound. This provides the ears and brain with significant support, making it easier to hear. Hearing aids alleviate symptoms like tinnitus while also maximizing hearing capacity. Today’s hearing aids are incredibly innovative and advanced. There is a wide range of styles, features, and technologies. This includes tinnitus management features which are designed to reduce tinnitus and provide relief.
Try tinnitus retraining therapy. This form of sound therapy focuses on training the brain to interpret tinnitus differently. Playing low levels of white noise while simultaneously experiencing tinnitus over time can help the brain to perceive tinnitus as mundane background noise. The brain already does this with several other types of noises including fans, generators, and other background noises. After repeated exposure (a process known as habituation), the brain can learn to prioritize and deemphasize tinnitus sounds.
Reduce and process stress effectively. Stress can be a major trigger for tinnitus so it is important to cultivate ways to reduce stress. Identifying sources of stress and working to eliminate those sources is important. Also identifying and practicing ways to process stress effectively is useful. Try exercising, meditation, yoga, taking a daily walk, swimming or other physical activities that you enjoy.
Create white noise. Creating ambient or white noise is a helpful way to mask tinnitus. There are several different ways you can do this including: using sound or white noise machines, playing soft music in the background, having the TV on on low volume settings etc. Another way you can create ambient noise is by downloading an app that plays calming noises like waterfall, rain drops, waves, bird chirping etc.
Increase physical activity. Physical engagement promotes blood flow and is a great way to move through stress which can alleviate tinnitus. You can increase physical activity by taking a daily walk or finding an activity you enjoy doing like swimming, golfing, biking etc.
Enhance sleep. Tinnitus can take a toll on sleep, preventing people from initiating and/or maintaining quality sleep. This can then trigger tinnitus, creating an unpleasant cycle that affects daily wellness. Put conditions in place that support quality sleep: having a comfortable bed and bedding, adjusting lighting, establishing a night time routine and winds you down, taking a warm shower, using sleep aids like ear plugs etc. This helps you cultivate and practice effective sleep hygiene which can enhance your sleep and alleviate tinnitus.