Can Someone Explain to a Newbie What Habituation Is and “Ideally” How It Works?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Plainsman, Feb 25, 2019.

    1. Plainsman

      Plainsman Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/12/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unsure, potentially from shooting range
      It’s all in the title to my thread, “Can someone explain to a newbie what habituation is and “ideally” how it works?”

      Thanks!
       
    2. GSC
      Owned

      GSC Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma.
      It's basically getting used to the sound and making it into the new background you're used to. Instead of actual silence, this is now your silence. It's like being nose-blind to your own home, but with your ears. :pompous:
       
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    3. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Plainsman

      Plainsman Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/12/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unsure, potentially from shooting range
      Gotcha, and I’ve done construction around swine, do I follow the concept of nose-blind well, but are there any how-to things to practice? Is it supposed to just happen on its own. Trust me, I didn’t try to learn to accept the pig smell, either it just happened or my olfactory senses left in rebellion.
       
    4. Contrast

      Contrast Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Retrovile
      Tinnitus Since:
      late 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      injury from noxious noise
      Don't forget you also have to get used to hearing loss like muffled hearing, noise induced pain, abnormal amplification of noise, and middle ear muscle spams combined with tinnitus.

      Habituation - learning to live with it
       
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    5. Hazel
      Dreaming

      Hazel Director Staff Podcast Patron Benefactor Hall of Fame Advocate

      Location:
      the Netherlands
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      one-sided hearing loss (of unknown origin)
      Habituation is a process that happens naturally in the brain, where our brain learns to ignore a repeated stimulus. It doesn't happen for everyone, but for most tinnitus patients it does, although the time it takes them to get there varies a lot. Perhaps there are things that you can do to help move it along, but I don't know if there is any hard science on this.

      In my experience though, and that of many others I've spoken to, it doesn't help to obsessively monitor your tinnitus (i.e. "is it still there?" "did it change?"). It's tempting to do that, but this will just keep your brain focused on the sound and train your brain to regard it as something dangerous, making it impossible to ignore.

      Beyond that, it's just a natural process and doesn't require any special treatment per se to achieve. Although there are certainly people out there who will try to sell you their "treatments," so beware of scams :D
       
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    6. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Plainsman

      Plainsman Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/12/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unsure, potentially from shooting range
      Thankfully, although I’ve been diagnosed with some borderline mild/moderate hearing loss, I haven’t felt a real impact from that part yet. Maybe it’s because of the higher frequency loss, or because the ringing is SO much more noticeable, but I don’t get that full ear sensation I hear about (at least not a lot). Sometimes If I move my jaw I feel a pop and it feels all clear. But the sound I’m struggling to do anything with, and it may be irrational, but I find myself wanting to avoid any environment I can’t control (Not loving going out in public at all right now). Afraid of the next big sound.
       
    7. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Plainsman

      Plainsman Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/12/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unsure, potentially from shooting range
      Thanks for the scam warning. Man, try NOT to focus on the sound, there is a challenge right there!
       
    8. Contrast

      Contrast Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Retrovile
      Tinnitus Since:
      late 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      injury from noxious noise
      Habituating to mild tinnitus is possible, I don't know about worse.

      However even "very slight" noise induced pain is enough to make me suicidal just knowing my auditory system is corrupted with nociception is enough to give me panik attacks. Months ago every noise I heard caused my face to feel tense and ear to slightly feel hot, regardless of volume, high pitches were worst. The burning/ear fullness took 9 months or so to resolve.
       
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    9. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      HI @Plainsman

      Please read the post below: The habituation Process.

      The habituation process.

      Habituation is frequently talked about in tinnitus forums and probably comes in at second place to the popular question: when will a cure be found? It seems some people have become quite taken with this word and believe it is the most important thing to strive for when dealing with this condition. Everyone wants to habituate as soon as possible and carry on living their life doing everything that they want to and putting tinnitus firmly behind them.

      I can honestly say that I see nothing wrong with that, but wanting something in the speed that we would like it isn’t always achievable, especially with something like tinnitus. A few people that have had tinnitus for a while, have contacted me to discuss just that. They have concerns about the length of time it’s taking to habituate. Similarly, I have heard from those new to this condition that want the habitation process to start as quickly as possible. Both groups tell me they are doing all the right things but it seems patience is giving way to despondency and despair and some are starting to believe habituation might never happen for them.

      It is of little comfort to these people when they hear family and friends say, tinnitus is just a minor irritant and something that can easily be ignored. Occasionally, it might be intrusive but this is never more than temporary and they are still able to carry on with their life unperturbed. I often sense the frustration a person is under when they are relaying this to me. Whether I’m talking to them on the telephone, private messenger or answering an email. It is then that I’m often asked: why is it that the habituation process doesn’t seem to be happening for them?

      Answering such a question isn’t easy because there is no single answer that I can provide but I will say this. Tinnitus is a common condition that comes in many forms and intensities and no two people experience it the same. It can be very troublesome especially in the early stages of onset, but gradually this gives way and the condition settles down and in time many manage to cope with it when it’s mild or moderate. Sometimes this may involve treatment via a hearing therapist or a person achieves this naturally without being referred to a clinic.

      It should be noted that tinnitus can be a complex condition, depending on how loud and intrusive it is for the individual? So what I’ve just outlined won’t apply to everyone. There are other factors that also come into play. A person’s make-up or rather their outlook on life. Whether they are positive or negative thinking can help or delay the habitation process. In addition to this, stress and anxiety are often associated with tinnitus and a person might be taking medication such as an antidepressant to help cope with it. There are a myriad of scenarios that I could relay to you on how tinnitus can affect someone’s quality of life, their well-being and the habituation process. For now I will say this:

      When a person habituates to tinnitus it means they are able cope with it but this doesn’t mean they will never hear it. Although some people habituate to a level where the tinnitus is rarely heard or stays at a very low level. Whether the tinnitus is silent for periods of time or remains low, mild, moderate or is occasionally intrusive, it doesn’t really matter, because it all means the same thing. When habituation is reached a person will know, because whatever the level it will not bother you. However, like everything there are exceptions and tinnitus is no different. I believe there are some limitations to habituation. As I have previously said the condition comes in many forms and intensities. Some people have variable tinnitus that can fluctuate from silent, mild, moderate and severe. When it is loud and intrusive (severe) and this level is sustained for long periods it can become very debilitating and a person might have to take medication to cope with it, which is usually supplied by their doctor. This level of sustained intrusiveness shouldn’t be confused with a tinnitus spike, which usually returns to baseline within a short period of time.

      I want to say that I believe habituation is achievable for most people with time. In some instances a person might need the professional help of a Hearing Therapist or Audiologist, as there are a variety of treatment options available to help one in the habituation process. One should also try to be realistic. There are some people that will accept nothing less than a complete cure from their tinnitus and this is unfortunate, because they could waste a lot of time being miserable.

      I have corresponded with people that have said, their tinnitus is very low and is only heard occasionally or in a quiet room, at night for instance. Yet these people are not satisfied because they want a complete cure and will deliberately seek out quiet surroundings to monitor their tinnitus, checking to see if it has increased or not. It’s as if they have become obsessed with this condition and to the point where is starts to affect their relationship with those that are close to them, and I don’t think this is healthy.

      In summing up I want to say one last thing. Those that are having treatment with a Hearing Therapist, Audiologist, or finding that their tinnitus is becoming less intrusive and they are in the habituation process. Try not to read negative posts or associate with negative thinking people who are not in the same place that you are, as their beliefs can prevent your advancement, if you are not careful.

      I wish you well
      Michael

      PS: further reading on habituation:
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/tinnitus-a-personal-view.18668/
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/hyperacusis-as-i-see-it.19174/
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/answers-to-hyperacusis-and-habituation.12058/
       
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    10. coffee_girl
      Innocent

      coffee_girl Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      All my life, but got worse 2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced / Concert
      Habituation also happens with time, time is the most important factor here...having a positive attitude will get you there faster.
       
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    11. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Plainsman

      Plainsman Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/12/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unsure, potentially from shooting range
      @Michael Leigh and @coffee_girl, thank you both. Michael, I really found the info in that post helpful. Thanks for pulling it up for me (and for not berating me for not finding it myself :) ). It is greatly appreciated. Coffee_Girl, also good sound advice. I used to be incredibly active. After a year of injuries and surgery I’ve basically turned into a couch potato. I didn’t want to, but last night I forced myself to get back on the bike again. Only a 1/2 hour workout, but something about it did make me feel better. I’m a fervent believer in Jesus as well - while I want this taken away, I know that life is not over if it isn’t.
       
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    12. Hazel
      Dreaming

      Hazel Director Staff Podcast Patron Benefactor Hall of Fame Advocate

      Location:
      the Netherlands
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      one-sided hearing loss (of unknown origin)
      Well, not focusing on it can be near impossible, especially in the beginning; though that usually gets easier over time. But I was referring to not obsessively monitoring it, from second to second, trying to catch each nuance of the sound, whether it changes, etc. That's super energy consuming. So it can help to just tell yourself: "Ok this sound is super annoying, but I don't HAVE to actively listen out for it every second of the day."

      I dunno, each person is different though, and I guess it's about finding out what works for you; it can be quite a journey.
       
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    13. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
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    14. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Plainsman

      Plainsman Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/12/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unsure, potentially from shooting range
      Thanks @Hazel, I’ve been doing the opposite I think. I’ve been so focused on trying to keep notes for my doc visits I’ve been taking notes daily. Louder today, more manageable at this hour, higher pitches at 7 o’clock, etc, etc. In trying to be clinical and proactive, I wonder if I’m being counterproductive???
       
    15. Hazel
      Dreaming

      Hazel Director Staff Podcast Patron Benefactor Hall of Fame Advocate

      Location:
      the Netherlands
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      one-sided hearing loss (of unknown origin)
      Hmm, good question. When I was seeing a therapist (2-3 months after developing tinnitus) to help me deal with my anxiety - and by the way she was specialized in tinnitus, not just a general psychologist - she advised me to keep a diary for one week, taking notes on tinnitus loudness and bothersomeness, as well as what I was doing that day. The aim was to try and correlate between certain activities, e.g. sleep, sports, leisure, etc. and tinnitus severity. It can be helpful because you can uncover certain patterns or triggers; and these can vary from person to person. But she also cautioned me to stop doing this after a week because otherwise you can become obsessed with monitoring your tinnitus.

      I wouldn't worry too much about whether you're doing the 'right' or 'wrong' thing. You'll figure out what works for you and what doesn't!
       
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    16. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Plainsman

      Plainsman Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/12/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unsure, potentially from shooting range
      Thanks Hazel!
       
    17. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      You just need to give it time. After 18-24 months, many people find that their emotional reaction upon hearing T is not as strong as it used to be.
       
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