Tinnitus can be a particularly debilitating auditory condition. Over time, persistent tinnitus can cause frustration, anxiety and even depression. While there is currently no cure for the condition, some management techniques may be able to help reduce its effects and severity. If you think you might have tinnitus, the first step to take is to see a hearing clinician, who will advise you of your treatment options. You can book an appointment by clicking here.
In the meantime, here are some helpful everyday exercises and techniques you can practice to help you cope.
If your tinnitus gets particularly bad or you feel like you need a break, it’s often helpful to try and engage with more pleasing noises, like gentle music or environmental and nature sounds. This noise shouldn’t be too loud – the idea is not to drown out the tinnitus, but distract you from it. Even if you can still hear your tinnitus, sound therapy provides more interesting and soothing sounds to concentrate on consciously and subconsciously
Sound therapy recordings and CDs are readily available, and numerous websites allow you to customise your preferred sounds. There are also lots of free smartphone apps available, and with new hearing aid technology and Bluetooth these can be connected and played directly to your hearing aids.
Living with tinnitus can be very stressful at times. And as high stress levels can cause tinnitus to worsen, it’s important to have some techniques to help you relax. If the ringing in your ears starts to feel overwhelming, take a couple of minutes to yourself to help you re-focus. Try to find a quiet place and concentrate on your breathing and do some exercises to help re-calibrate your hearing.
One method is to close your eyes and take a deep breath, then flex your arm and leg mussels, release and exhale. While doing this, try to hear the sounds of your body and ‘listen’ to one sound above all the others. Repeat this until you feel in control. Over time, this will become a useful type of meditation.
When you have tinnitus, it’s important to give your ears a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Reading can be a helpful way to switch off and disconnect. When it’s quiet, tinnitus can feel louder and more intrusive, but if you can keep your attention and focus on a good book, reading can be both relaxing and rewarding.
The key to living with tinnitus is to reach the point where it does not affect your quality of life. This is known as habituation. For example, if you were to move from a small town to a large city, you might initially be overwhelmed by the sounds of the traffic. But after a year or so, you will have become so used to the sounds that you no longer notice them.
Habituation is something that happens gradually over time. You can try and speed up the process by learning to manage your emotional reaction to tinnitus, instead of trying to manage the tinnitus itself. You cannot become used to tinnitus if you are stressed or afraid. Keep busy, try relaxation techniques and do your best not to worry about your tinnitus. And remember to speak to a hearing clinician for professional advice!