Tinnitus: Reducing the Impact

Discussion in 'Support' started by erik, Jul 17, 2012.

    1. erik

      erik Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Washington State, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/15/2012 or earlier?
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Most likely hearing loss
      Good Article, especially for newbies but sometimes we all forget some of these things that may help.

      Tinnitus does not have to dramatically affect your quality of life. Avoid focusing too much attention on your tinnitus and take steps to manage the condition. Avoid excessive noise and find relaxation and stress management strategies that work for you.

      Habituation to tinnitus
      The aim of all tinnitus sufferers is to reach the point where their tinnitus does not unduly affect their quality of life. This is known as habituation. It is important to undergo medical tests to resolve your underlying fears about tinnitus (for example, that it may be caused by a serious illness). You cannot become habituated to tinnitus if you are afraid.

      Once you become habituated to tinnitus:
      • Your tinnitus will have no negative emotional meaning. Therefore, it will no longer unduly impact on your life.
      • You will notice an improvement in your insomnia, ability to concentrate, depression and anxiety.
      • You will still have some days where your tinnitus is more troublesome than usual, for example, when you are overstressed or tired.
      Becoming habituated to tinnitus is like moving from the country to the city. At first you notice the traffic noises, but after 12 months you are no longer aware of them. Understanding how our brain reacts to noise is the first step to habituation.

      Reaction to noise
      When your mind first takes in a sound from the environment, it classifies it as threatening, neutral or non-threatening. The next time you hear the noise, your mind will automatically react. For instance, a car horn will usually make you more alert and ready to get out of the way of the car, even if you can’t actually see it.

      When your mind first hears tinnitus, it cannot relate it to any previously classified noise and so will classify it as potentially threatening. This places the mind and body in a state of high anxiety. If your brain maintains the perception that tinnitus is threatening, you will become anxious every time you hear your tinnitus.

      Think of your tinnitus as non-threatening
      If you are to become used to your tinnitus, you must start to think of it as being non-threatening. If you continue to see your tinnitus as threatening, you will continue to feel anxious and stressed.

      Try to do these things
      The more attention you pay to your tinnitus, the harder it is to become habituated to it. Try to:
      • Accept tinnitus as a part of your life.
      • Stop worrying about your tinnitus.
      • Keep busy – focus on enjoyable and stimulating activities.
      • Find relaxation and stress management strategies that work for you. These may include yoga, Tai Chi, reflexology or massage.
      Try not to do these things
      You can help to make tinnitus less distressing if you avoid:
      • Working through an endless range of cures. Don’t live in hope of a miracle cure
      • Remaining angry about your tinnitus
      • Feeling guilty about not coping
      • Talking about it constantly with family and friends
      • Constantly monitoring the level of your tinnitus.
      Lifestyle adjustments
      Tinnitus can be managed with some lifestyle changes. Avoiding things that can exacerbate tinnitus, like stress, fatigue and loud noise, can help.

      Avoid exposure to loud noise
      Loud noise will exacerbate tinnitus:
      • Wear ear muffs or ear plugs for activities such as mowing the lawn or using a chainsaw.
      • Avoid loud nightclubs or use ear protection. If you have to shout to make yourself heard when someone is standing about one metre from you, the noise level is too loud and will make your tinnitus worse.
      Avoid stress
      There is strong anecdotal evidence that stress exacerbates tinnitus. Although stress is part of everyday life, you can take steps to reduce stress levels by undertaking relaxation therapies. It will help if you:
      • Stay as calm as you can – becoming agitated about your tinnitus may make it worse.
      • Develop techniques and activities that help you relax.
      • Try to avoid stressful situations.
      • Think positively – feeling negative and angry can aggravate the problem.
      Find the best ways to mask your tinnitus
      Fall back on masking techniques during the inevitable bad periods that accompany tinnitus. Examples include:
      • Surrounding yourself with ambient and environmental noise; for example, playing the radio softly.
      • Playing music with soothing sounds; for example, rain falling on the roof or the ocean surf.
      Hypnotherapy and cognitive behavior therapy
      Hypnotherapy can indirectly help by aiding relaxation. Cognitive behaviour, which is offered by clinical psychologists, can help you to:

      • Change the way you think about tinnitus
      • Learn ways to focus your attention away from your tinnitus
      • Control the stress associated with tinnitus.
      Diet regimes are sometimes helpful. However, dietary exclusion trials are needed to prove or disprove that suspected foods aggravate tinnitus. Try easing off caffeine (tea, coffee, chocolate or cola drinks), quinine (tonic water) and alcohol as they can temporarily worsen tinnitus for some people. You do not have to avoid these items altogether. Just be aware they may temporarily increase your tinnitus.

      Carbohydrate-rich meals, for example pasta, followed by cake, can have a calming or sedating effect, which can be helpful. However, give yourself time to digest your meal before you go to bed to help avoid a disturbed sleep.

      Quit smoking
      Smoking narrows the blood vessels that supply vital oxygen to your ears and their sensory cells. You will be better able to manage your tinnitus if you quit smoking.

      Keep physically and mentally active
      Try and take up:
      • Exercise – walking is very beneficial.
      • Hobbies or interests that you enjoy and can ‘lose yourself’ in.
      Even if your tinnitus prevents you from working, try to keep as physically and mentally active as possible. Do not withdraw from life.

      Things to remember
      • You can become habituated or ‘used to’ tinnitus.
      • The key to habituation is no longer feeling threatened by your tinnitus.
      • The more attention you pay to your tinnitus, the harder it is to become habituated to it.
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    2. Fish

      Fish Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      July 2012
      This article is extremally depressing since it sounds like really nothing can be done :cry:

      What is happening with me recently is unbearable, how can it say get used to it, I cannot imagine EVER getting used to it, I'd rather kill myself than have to cope with the awful noises in my head for the rest of my life!!
    3. AUTHOR

      erik Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Washington State, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/15/2012 or earlier?
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Most likely hearing loss

      Don't totally rule out that something cannot be done especially if you have not seen a doctor yet. Some types of tinnitus are symptoms of medical issues and you need to be seen to evaluate this. If no cause is found, then while it is true that not much can be done about tinnitus itself, there are somethings that can be done to change your reaction to tinnitus.

      I have had tinnitus for just over 3 months now. The first 2 months were horrible, I could not eat, sleep or concentrate. Like you, I thought I could not go on or live with this sound for the rest of my life. Now at 3 months, I am not going to say I like my tinnitus - not by a long stretch, but I will say my attitude toward it is different to the point I can now tolerate it and continue on with my life. I do believe "time" is the best solution for many with tinnitus and it seems to be a very slow process. That doesn't mean you have to wait and wait. See a doctor now and see what he/she says about getting something to help your anxiety and/or sleep if you are having issues. I can tell you that extreme stress, anxiety and lack of sleep will make your tinnitus 100% worse and put you into a vicious cycle that is hard to break out of. There is nothing wrong with getting a little "help" from your doctor.

      Tinnitus does get better. I may not seem like it now, but it will. I was in your shoes 3 months ago.
    4. mock turtle

      mock turtle Member

      puget sound
      Tinnitus Since:
      07/26/1992...habituated after 2 years; 11/04/11 new outbreak
      good list
      i would simply ad...avoid ototoxic substances especially medications


      msg makes my ears ring off the hook...but things do subside after a few days

      antibiotics , some (esp aminoglycosides) are very problematic

      and as a person who surfers awfully from reflux, (GERD), i have taken a lot of H2 histamines to decrease stomach acid

      a problem as for me...but not everyone..... is that some of these H2 stomach acid suppressors like ranitidine famotidine etc an other related drugs (common names like zantac, tagamet, pepcid, make my ears ring bad...

      but again, this is not true for everyone so you have to be careful and check it out for yourself


      i disagree that eriks article is, as you say, depressing

      tinnitus can be managed and you will get better, i promise

      but it will take time and the knowledge provided by erik , above, is power and will help you to manage this awful condition

      have faith that your body and mind can adjust to this bad situation..it will if you let it

      you are not alone...millions, right now are facing the same struggle

      heres a first step, find the most fun and distracting activities you can think of and do them..., and stay active! ! !

      i find music (quiet music), exercise (bicycling) and sex ;) very helpful

      good luck
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    5. gary

      gary Member Benefactor

      Macomb, MI. USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Who Knows
      Erik, thank you so much for taking the time to make this post. You have, in my opinion, given very good advice.

      I will continue to read posts, yes you can over indulge in anything, but I always feel better after reading posts and replies in this group.

      I am a newbie, so naturally I am going to soak up all the info I can. I guess it is human nature, and common sense. When you get a new Tv, computer, motorcycle etc. You want to read the manual cover to cover when you first get it.
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    6. LongWait

      LongWait Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud Concert
      It's my birthday today. My tinnitus is horrendous, the only way to reduce the impact is peaceful euthanasia. I hope they make it more accessible, the 24 hour tea kettle, piano keys, is taking its toll.

      Hopefully a heart attack soon.
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