For Tinnitus Awareness Week 2021, we are taking a brief look into this debilitating condition to raise awareness and discuss what treatments and support therapies are out there to relieve the symptoms and spikes.
This invisible condition is the perception of sound within your ears or head that is not from an external sound source. It is known as the ‘ringing of the ears’, but it may take the form of a buzzing, whistling sound or a combination of them all. These sounds can be heard from one or both ears and/or in the headspace. It is often hard to distinguish exactly where the sounds are coming from and can vary in frequency and duration (in severe cases – consistent). It is also hard to convince people of it, as the sounds are generally subjective to just the person who is suffering and the only one who can hear it.
It can affect the sufferer in various ways and may alter in intensity throughout the day. For instance, the symptoms may seem more intense in the evening when you’ve come home after experiencing loud live music. Sadly, in most cases, people suffer from tinnitus every day and ultimately this affects their quality of life. The high-pitched sounds decrease their concentration levels, affects sleep pattern and their ability to maintain focus is near impossible. What is most unfortunate, is that it opens the door to social anxiety and depression if support is not shown or given. Whatever level of tinnitus people experience, the common factor is the ability to focus on other sounds or conversations is always a daily challenge.
Certain postures can highlight the frequencies suffers absorb. The pressure changes in your body when you move your head or stay still can alter the severity and volume of the tinnitus they experience. Similarly, when they feel tired, stressed and anxious – the condition can worsen.
Tinnitus isn’t an illness or a disease but believed to be a symptom of an inner ear problem or an abnormality in the hearing pathways to the brain. In most cases tinnitus occurs when the inner ear is damaged, but here are some other suspected causes:
What you hear is variable – you may experience ringing, hissing, whistling, whooshing, roaring or clicking. The sounds can be short in duration, alter in volume or be a continual occurrence. The volume is unique to every sufferer and while one person may hear tinnitus some parts of the day – others struggle with consistently loud and unchanging noise all the time.
In short – yes and no. Tinnitus is the second most common form of hearing loss (after age-related) and highlights that something is wrong with the auditory system and/or the cochlea of the inner ear, the auditory nerve and parts of the brain that process sound. Generally, tinnitus goes hand in hand with hearing loss because of this and would indicate that there has been some noise damage in the past. However, around 10% of people who suffer from tinnitus don’t have any form of hearing loss, even if the condition is severe.
There are many ways in which you can seek support and relieve your tinnitus symptoms. Here are a few recommendations:
Like with most health problems an early diagnosis is vital to providing you with the right support and to regain quality of life. As soon as you start experiencing the signs of tinnitus book an appointment with an audiologist who will assess your hearing and offer you advice and treatment. You might be referred to a hearing therapist or coach who can provide CBT and TRT tinnitus therapy support.
Studies indicate that digital hearing aids can indeed reduce the impact of tinnitus for a large percentage of individuals. In a 2007 US survey of hearing care professionals, they reported that about 60% of their patients with tinnitus had their symptoms eased through hearing aids, and roughly 22% of their patients had experienced significant relief.
It is recommended to use hearing aids for those with hearing loss and tinnitus. They can be effective either used alone or as part of a wider package of therapy.
It is important to maintain a balanced diet and a healthy attitude towards exercise. A healthy body promotes a healthy mind and exercise can be a great distraction away from tinnitus. A lot of sufferers practice meditation and yoga for a more mindful approach to the condition.
Introduce background noise like audiobooks, relaxing music and the radio. This helps to distract the mind and allows you to concentrate on something more soothing, rather than the annoying and constant tinnitus levels.
It is important to keep the background noise lower than the tinnitus levels, as sometimes the tinnitus volume can spike afterwards and cause more suffering.
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