How can you manage tinnitus?
The first part of tinnitus management is not to panic, which is easier said than done. It is always advisable to get your ears checked by your GP, an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor, or an audiologist that specialises in tinnitus if you develop the symptoms.
It may be a simple case of a build-up of wax which is reducing your hearing levels. They will be able to ensure there is no evidence of an infection, or perhaps an underlying ear condition which needs treatment first. You may find that your health care professional may not have a lot of information with regards to tinnitus, but the important part is that he refers you on to individuals who do.
You may find that some clinicians will tell you “there is nothing you can do about tinnitus, just get used to it”. This statement is wrong.
There are various therapies and treatments that can help you manage your tinnitus and reduce its impact on your life. You might find it helpful to try managing your tinnitus yourself, either before or during treatment.
The following tips may be useful to you:
1. Learn to relax
Sometimes worrying about tinnitus can make it more noticeable, so learning to relax can help provide relief. Slowing down the rate of breathing and relaxing your muscles are examples of simple relaxation exercises you can try.
You may want to take up short courses on mindfulness relaxation or active relaxation exercises such as yoga.
The key idea over here is to find a methodology that is going to help you relax and continue doing it to manage your stress and anxiety.
Increasing the level of background noise where you are can help you to stop focussing on your tinnitus.
Some people find playing low-level sounds from a radio, having a fan running, or a ticking clock is beneficial.
You could try a sound generator, which plays natural noise such as waves breaking, running water or birdsong.
These can all be helpful at night time when you are trying to sleep.
There are machines that can be used to help generate these sounds, but on the other hand there are various applications on your mobile which would give you access to these sounds.
Download The Tinnitus Clinic’s tinnitus self help guide.
3. Protect your hearing but avoid overuse of earplugs
Protect your hearing when you are in a particularly noisy environment. However, do not be tempted to wear earplugs away from these situations. Overuse can make you more aware of your tinnitus, and more sensitive to normal levels of environmental sounds.
Ideally, if you are at a concert a very noisy bar or working with heavy machinery you should use earplugs. You can get over the counter ear plugs, but if you find yourself in loud environments regularly you should invest in a pair of custom made earplugs. You can contact your local audiologist who can organise them for you.
More about tinnitus and earplugs from the Tinnitus Talk Support Forum.
4. Keep active
It is important to try to keep active and involved in your usual activities or hobbies as this can help to take your focus away from your tinnitus. Ways to focus your attention away from your tinnitus, ideas from the British Tinnitus Association.
5. Keep healthy
Obviously, being as healthy as possible is good for your general wellbeing. If you find certain foods or drinks, or activities seem to aggravate your tinnitus, consider reducing them.
If you find that your tinnitus is still troublesome, then don’t panic. There are several therapies available now which have been shown to provide long-term and consistent relief from tinnitus. You should seek help from a tinnitus specialist who may be able to provide one of these therapies, or help you to choose a hearing device which can also provide relief from tinnitus.
You might find it helpful to watch a video featuring Peter Humphries (below) with a twenty year history of tinnitus, who took up one of these therapies.
Tinnitus Case Study: Peter Humphries
Thanks to The Tinnitus Clinic
(click on ‘subtitles/cc box on bottom right hand corner of video to switch on captions)
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Acknowledgement: This webpage has been developed in conjunction with The Tinnitus Clinic.