Can Listening to Tinnitus in Silence Help Me Come to Terms with It?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Aspen.c, Apr 30, 2022.

    1. Aspen.c

      Aspen.c Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise trauma
      So after a spike/relapse 9 months ago, I lost my habituated status. It’s been pretty horrible the last few months. My tinnitus is pretty much unmaskable except by the shower and I hear it 24/7. However, I’ve started to notice a glimmer of hope particularly in the last month. I’ve had more good days than bad and even moments of tuning the sound out completely, though these moments are rare they tell me it can still happen. Because of this and some research I’ve come up with a plan of action and I’m curious what other people have to say about it.

      Basically my plan is to sit in silence for an hour or more a day and just let my tinnitus do its thing (which usually means get louder) until I no longer feel that anxious skin crawling feeling. In addition I plan on not looking anything about tinnitus up anymore, not talking about it with anyone and doing my best to not give it active attention. I spend a lot of time scrolling Tinnitus Talk for hope/inspiration but I’m thinking that just reinforces my attention on tinnitus. In all honesty the attention I give the tinnitus is far worse than the sound itself for me anyway.

      Over the last week I’ve been doing these 15-30 minute exposure sessions and I’ve noticed my mind is able to stop obsessing over the tinnitus for as much as a few hours afterwards. I still hear it but it’s less intrusive and my thoughts don’t stay stuck on it as much.

      How does this stack up against what other people have done? Is this a decent plan of attack in at least learning to live with this if it never goes back to baseline?
       
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    2. Stacken77
      Wishful

      Stacken77 Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise (likely headphones & cars), Acoustic trauma did me in
      I think it's a very good plan. Due to different circumstances, I've been forced to do this but for much more time, and it really helped habituation. Right now it's pretty intrusive, but it doesn't invoke an emotional reaction anymore, which should be the goal.

      I'm very convinced that using any sort of masking to suppress the sound, while yielding temporary relief, will only postpone habituation (if it is attainable).

      Good luck!
      ~Stacken
       
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    3. SonOfUhtred

      SonOfUhtred Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2000
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Music probably
      I definitely agree with the not looking tinnitus up for a bit. My tinnitus is also unmaskable now. I often spike reading about tinnitus lol. You can still find ways to enjoy life, there’s always something. I had lots of hobbies I’ve either had to give up or change i.e. I stopped going to the gym but then realised I can just wear ear defenders etc.

      As for the silence, I am not sure. I know Michael Leigh is a big advocate of sound enrichment. Then again, your silence routine sounds fairly positive to me in that you’re coming to terms with it rather than let it defeat you. Keep us updated!
       
    4. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      We are all different so if your plan works for you that is good. However, you have asked for opinions and I don't agree with what you propose to do for a number of reasons.

      Most audiologists and hearing therapists advise tinnitus patients not to sit in silence and listen to their tinnitus and I agree with them. By listening in quiet surroundings to your tinnitus it allows the brain to focus more on it which can make the tinnitus louder and habituation more difficult. Such a plan goes completely against habituating to tinnitus successfully.

      One of the best ways to habituate to tinnitus is using sound enrichment. This does not mean to mask the tinnitus by covering it up with another sound so it can't be heard. Sound enrichment should be set slightly below the tinnitus and this allows the brain not to focus on it as much. With time the brain will push the tinnitus further into the background making its perception less.

      A better way to use sound enrichment is using white noise generators but ideally, they should be used under the guidance of an audiologist or hearing therapist that specialises in tinnitus and hyperacusis management.

      The sound generators should be introduced slowly to the auditory system. Once this is achieved they should be put on in the morning and the white noise set slightly below the tinnitus and then leave them alone. When retiring to bed at night they should be removed and a sound machine placed by the bedside for sound enrichment.

      Over time the brain habituates to the white noise and slowly pushes the tinnitus into the background, making its perception less. If the person has hyperacusis this will be treated by the white noise through desensitizing the auditory system over time.

      Michael
       
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    5. MindOverMatter

      MindOverMatter Member

      Location:
      Norway
      Tinnitus Since:
      2004/05
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown (possibly stress related, and later sound induced)
      @Aspen.c, it could certainly work for some people. We are all different, and there are no certain/universal answer to this.

      @Stacken77, I agree, to a degree. But it's a big difference between complete silence and masking/suppressing your level of tinnitus. Masking is, imo, certainly not the road to go down if you want to habituate - which we agree on.

      Barely audible sound therapy, music, or whatever you may prefer, running in the background, works for many though. The purpose is to feed you are auditory systems with some sort of (positive) sound input, but on a level where you after a while almost forget it's there.
       
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    6. Chinmoku

      Chinmoku Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Started with a cold, possibly worsened by medication/noise
      @Aspen.c, an extreme form of what you are suggesting is meditating on the tinnitus. This is a technique suggested by Glenn Schweitzer among others. It never worked for my catastrophic tinnitus.
       
    7. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Aspen.c

      Aspen.c Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise trauma
      I really appreciate everyone’s input here. Just wanted to address the sound enrichment/masking comments. I’ve been doing this method for the last 7 months and I’m finding that for me all this achieves is a constant reminder of tinnitus. I find myself desperately avoiding silence and all that does imo is reinforce a fear of the tinnitus. I know that method works for a lot of people but I don’t think it was/is working for me.
       
    8. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Aspen.c

      Aspen.c Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise trauma
      When did yours increase?
       
    9. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Aspen.c

      Aspen.c Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise trauma
      How long did it take for you to no longer have an emotional reaction to it? That’s the worst part for me, I think I could live with the sound if it didn’t cause existential dread lol.
       
    10. Stacken77
      Wishful

      Stacken77 Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise (likely headphones & cars), Acoustic trauma did me in
      I guess a month or two of listening to it intensively. I don't really recommend sitting in complete silence for majority of the day, but an hour or two makes sense and won't be any issue whatsoever. Things will get easier, I can assure you that.

      Good luck!
      ~Stacken
       
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    11. SonOfUhtred

      SonOfUhtred Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2000
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Music probably
      I've had tinnitus for around 15+ years but was exposed to a loud noise around 2 years ago. It hasn't changed since! I still try to hold out some hope that it may improve even slightly but it is a horrible condition that is with me 24/7.
       
    12. ZFire
      Bored

      ZFire Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      2011 (mild) & 04/2021 (severe)
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ototoxicity (2012) Unknown-likely noise induce (2021)
      I sleep in silence and deliberately listen for it. I think something is working there. I feel like my brain eventually gets tired of viewing the tinnitus as a threat. My sleep has certainly improved though.
       
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    13. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Aspen.c

      Aspen.c Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise trauma
      So I’ve continued doing this and am still seeing pretty good results. I notice I’ve been having many more good days than bad since starting this. The last time I registered a “loud” day was the 19th of April. I put loud in quotes because a quiet day for me is still having perception of it basically 24/7.

      I did want to ask about something weird that’s been happening. The last week I’ve noticed that in quiet my tinnitus fades significantly but in a louder environment my tinnitus will almost start to compete with the sound to some degree and intrusiveness will go up. I noticed this before but the difference seems to be more noticeable. Is this a normal part of habitation, just a weird thing my tinnitus does or something else?

      Like I said before I don’t remember what the process of habitation long was like so I’m just wondering if this is par for the course. I’ll keep updating every once and a while as I continue on this road.
       
    14. Marshall

      Marshall Member

      Location:
      ND
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Not sure/virus/noise trauma/cumulative noise damage
      Hopefully your future bad days are your current good days, and your future good days are better than your current good days.
       
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    15. TomBradyGOAT

      TomBradyGOAT Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Who knows
      It is honestly how I have come as close to habituation as possible. I have spent many nights going to bed listening to my 8/10 tinnitus. What I find is if I do it, I catch my mind wandering to different things and then tinnitus. Most days I would wake up to quieter days.
       
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    16. Marshall

      Marshall Member

      Location:
      ND
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Not sure/virus/noise trauma/cumulative noise damage
      Same, sleeping in silence helped me a lot.
       
    17. Ricardo1991
      Tired

      Ricardo1991 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      The world may never know..
      I like this plan.

      Honestly, I did this a while back as well and have been doing this over the past few years. It has worked for me, however it is interesting to listen to as at a certain point the ringing actually stops and all I am left with is a sound like wind and a single static noise flickering around my head.

      I say it works because it makes us confront the beast, I am currently dealing with a major spike and am sort of in the same situation. I have been trying to do something similar to this as well.

      Good luck!
       
    18. Rajin

      Rajin Member Benefactor

      Location:
      PA
      Tinnitus Since:
      9/7/17
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Hearing loss ,noise
      Yes! It doesn't make your ears feel full, clogged.
       
    19. emy289

      emy289 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Not sure!
      Like other people above have said, everyone is so different. I personally find that if my tinnitus is noticeable during the day I find it best to concentrate on something else instead, rather than listening to it.

      However, when I'm trying to go to sleep I actually now find my tinnitus helpful! When I'm laid there if I find that my mind is racing and I'm thinking about all sorts which is stopping me from going to sleep, I actually focus on my tinnitus and listen to it and it must bore me to sleep.

      With tinnitus it's not about the tinnitus noise itself, it's about the brain's reaction to it. So if we can use it for good and reframe our thinking around it, it's going to reduce the distress associated with it. So whichever way you go about this, it's worth a try and if it works - fab! Hope you continue to improve with it :)
       
    20. Uklawyer

      Uklawyer Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Medication - antidepressants
      Very interested in this thread and people's experience of working with the sounds. There is something very reassuring in hearing of those that can just "be" with the noise, without feeling any emotion towards it. And really encouraging when this kind of mastery results in a perceived lowering of volume and awareness.
       
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    21. Ben Johnson

      Ben Johnson Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Georgia, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Cervicogenic headaches, Anxiety, OCD, Zoloft
      My theory on this is that it depends on why your mind is tuning into the tinnitus to begin with. Running from something that you are afraid of ALWAYS makes it worse. To me, that's what sound enrichment is to a degree. But, I also put a lot of stock in the professionals say, which is to use white noise/sound enrichment. Definitely confusing.
       
    22. Uklawyer

      Uklawyer Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Medication - antidepressants
      Generates anxiety. Will interfere with sleep and therefore makes me non-functional.

      I think sound enrichment (in which you reduce the effect of tinnitus but still hear it) is based on the same principle of confronting, but in a less harsh way.
       
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