Is Habituation Possible?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Michael Leigh, Jan 2, 2016.

    1. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Is habituation possible?

      I have often been asked this question by many people that are new to tinnitus and those that have habituated for some time but have noticed a resurgence in it’s severity, which hasn’t calmed down and cast some doubt on whether it will return to it’s manageable levels. I believe it is possible to habituate but it does depend on certain criteria. We are all different so no two people will experience tinnitus the same. It also comes in different forms and intensities, which will affect how a person relates to it and what their expectations are for the future, can make or break the habituation process.

      It is not unusual for the newbie to want a complete cure from the cacophony of noise that has suddenly invaded their life like an unwanted interloper. Perhaps their Doctor has said those familiar words: There is no cure you’ll have to get used to it. As far as the patient is concerned they're out to prove otherwise and will throw everything at it that they possibly can. The Internet is a vast source of information and they will endeavour to research tinnitus to the hilt leaving no stone unturned. Depending on where one lives in the world and the accessibility for suitable treatment is another factor.

      Many people don’t realize how complex and delicate the ear is until something goes wrong with it. Tinnitus is just one of many conditions that can affect the auditory system. It is for this reason, some ENT Drs are reluctant to intervene too early and prefer to wait for up to six months before offering treatment like TRT, CBT and white noise generators. Unless a person is experiencing additional symptoms such as dizziness, balance problems or deafness which could be an indication of another problem associated with the ear. Therefore, the most a person might be offered in the form of treatment is antidepressants, a sleeping draft or some counselling.

      On the positive front: Tinnitus has been known to go away within six months sometimes a little longer and many people do habituate within this time and therefore, it’s no longer seen so much of problem. The early stages of tinnitus can cause a lot of upheaval in a person’s life, often making them emotionally unequipped to take on the treatments that I’ve mentioned, because they do require some calm, positive approach and the willingness to be patient.

      By all means research tinnitus and gain as much knowledge about it as possible if that is your choice, but try not to put too much pressure on yourself or setting goals that at the moment might not be achievable. In the early stages, tinnitus can feel like you’re riding a rollercoaster. One day you're up and the next day down. Enthusiasm can quickly turn into disappointment and despair. It is advisable in this instance to take things slow and easy.

      To the person that has habituated for a while and noticed a tinnitus spike is lasting longer than usual and is showing no signs of settling down as it would normally. Try not to panic. As you know stress can cause this, for life is problematic and few of us go through it without having problems. On the other hand some people habituate to the point where their tinnitus is hardly heard. Under these circumstances it’s easy to forget and throw caution to the wind. Have you been attending clubs, bars or gigs where music has been played loud and you haven’t been using noise reducing earplugs? It is something to consider.

      Have you been listening to music through headphones? Although the tinnitus hasn’t bothered you passed, there’s no guarantee that you wont be affected now even when played at low volume. Whilst it’s good that a person habituates and carries on to lead a fulfilling life, it would be prudent to remember to protect one’s hearing at all times or at least be conscious of it. I have been contacted by many people having habituated for a while and stopped using sound enrichment at night and noticed their tinnitus becoming intrusive again over a period of time. Others attending venues where music is played loud, and those using headphones.

      My advice is to be careful in whatever you decided to do. If the tinnitus doesn’t calm down after three weeks then I think it’s time to ask your Doctor to refer you to ENT. Hopefully, you’ll be put on a treatment plan. Since you have the experience of habituation and what this entails, it wont be long before you’ll feel like yourself again.

      I have habituated twice in the twenty years that I’ve had tinnitus, although the second time was more difficult and took longer it was still possible.

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