Hearing loss from noise exposure and aging are primary reasons for ringing in the ears. Although medications, vascular and viral disease, head, neck, and ear injuries can also cause hearing loss and tinnitus. In many cases, the cause is unknown and, for the most part, is not resolved by medical treatment. However, diagnosed conditions such as an ear infection or ear pressure, sudden hearing changes, pulsing tinnitus, head or neck injury, and TMJ can be responsible. For almost all cases, which are non-medical cases, an audiologist can provide advanced evaluations and treatments.
There is no magic pill or medical treatment that makes tinnitus go away in most cases. According to the National Institutes of Health, there are no scientifically proven cures for tinnitus of a single tinnitus remedy. However, regardless of the cause, experts agree behavioral changes and Self-Help are needed when ringing in the ears becomes bothersome. Over time, everyone gets better by following some simple rules. You are in control when it comes to reducing your tinnitus awareness and sound sensitivity annoyance. It takes time and patience.
The brain naturally reacts negatively to tinnitus and hyperacusis. Not knowing why these conditions start or how to stop them are primary drivers making them worse. The unknown drives the brain to be anxious and vigilant as it considers these conditions threatening. Most patients don't understand what's happening, and many are told nothing can be done when this is not true. For various reasons, some go into a tailspin, many of them not intentionally. Active worrying about it just heightens the loudness and focuses the brain. Don't do it. Relax, be patient, and get the right help so the ringing in the ears can go down. Self-help is the right place to start.
Tinnitus and hyperacusis are not perceived the same in all individuals. Reactions to these conditions vary considerably from "who cares" to "this is ruining my life." It is usual for each of us to react differently to these conditions at the subconscious level. These categories vary because of various factors such as how it started, was it gradual or sudden, age-related or caused by accident, happened along with hearing loss, or if certain sounds cause severe pain. The first step towards relief is realizing how your brain responds to these conditions and then using Self-Help to start the process of habituation and relief.
Audiologists use evaluation tools to set the baseline and develop individual goals and timelines for success. To start, download and fill out the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI), Khalfa Hyperacusis Handicap Questionnaire, and the Hearing Handicap Inventory (HHI). These will teach you about your level of reaction and areas to improve. The scores break into several categories: normal, mild, moderate, severe, and profound. Anyone can fall within any category and still benefit from Self-Help therapy, which is always the starting point for tinnitus and hyperacusis therapy. The more severe to profound the category, the greater the need to go beyond Self-Help with an audiologist and for some, also a cognitive behavior therapist to retrain sound responses using tinnitus retraining and sound therapy.
If you would like your questionnaires scored and analyzed, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The subconscious brain gets scared when tinnitus first occurs in millions of patients. In these cases, the brain initially thinks it's harmful, but it's not. Fortunately, over time, the awareness goes down, and so does the distress. The conscious brain and actions we take, break the cycle of tinnitus hyper-monitoring. Mild or severe ringing in the ears, it will all get better. Relax!
Tinnitus is louder when focused upon, like a bothersome paper cut. Focusing on the ringing in the ears or head at bedtime makes it louder, especially if it's quiet. Staying engaged in activities reduces it. Hyperacusis occurs in 40% of patients with tinnitus and can be managed and retrained with sound. Do your best to accept and ignore your new body sound and get better. Relax!
Making tinnitus worse comes from em-bedding untrue negative thoughts and distortions. "My life with tinnitus is completely ruined, it will never end and just get worse, there is no help." Everyone gets better with time, and having patience is critical. Don't think about it or focus on it. Don't look for it. Please don't do it! Take your life back. Relax!
There is no reason to subject yourself to loud noise because this stimulates tinnitus and sound discomfort. Training the brain with sound, however, is the answer. Tolerable levels of sound should be ongoing. There should be no long periods of silence. Hearing protection can be used sparingly for loud noise but not everyday listening. Keep sound in your life, listen to music, and evoke your Mozart Effect.
Music exercises the brain and improves sound processing, and trains attention. Music was created by man and thus matches how the brain works. Music and singing elicit endorphins, soothing the limbic system, which is negatively responding to tinnitus. Soothing sounds and music can be used to compete with tinnitus, but don't try to block it out, hear both comfortably.
The autonomic nervous system is altered and sent into relaxation following exercise. Exercise is not only for the body but for mind-body harmony. Daily exercising can relax attention to tinnitus and calm the mind. Combining music and exercise is known to create superior relaxation. Take a daily walk with your favorite tunes. Try to time your physical moves with the beat of the music.
Falling asleep and staying asleep can be challenging with tinnitus. Getting the sleep environment right is the first step. Sleep tips can be found on the National Sleep Foundation of America website. To increase relaxation, use music or spa sounds in the background. Hearing both sounds reduces the importance of tinnitus. In addition, doing a mental task such as counting forward by twos or backward from 300 by threes moves your attention away from tinnitus.
The real goal is to teach your brain that tinnitus doesn't matter and is unimportant. Accepting it removes the focus, presence, and, most importantly, ongoing annoyance. The brain removes it from view and turns it down and along with our emotions. It can come back at times, but that is brief. It causes no harm and has no effect. Take your life back and be engaged. Over time, tinnitus will be just something people get over. You can do it. Relax!
Some will need more than Self-Help and should consult a licensed Audiologist who is trained to diagnose and treat these conditions. In addition to diagnostic testing, counseling, sound therapy, Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, and diagnostic testing are common activities. They may also recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Mindfulness to help control your adjustment to having tinnitus and reset your focus.
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