It just won’t stop.
Ever since you’ve started noticing the incessant ringing (or chirp, hiss, buzz, hum) in your ears and head it’s been hard to get some sleep.
It’s 2 AM again and you’ve been scouring the internet trying to see if you can find anything that can get you some relief.
You’ve got tinnitus.
You feel tired but wired.
There’s no shortage of information out there, that’s for sure.
It feels overwhelming and demoralizing.
Especially when your doctor just told you there’s no cure.
You think to yourself, “with all that modern medicine can do (we created an effective vaccine for COVID in record time, for goodness sakes!). Why hasn’t anyone found The Cure?”
The medication that could just end my suffering once and for all?
It’s because tinnitus is a symptom and not a disease in and of itself.
So what is tinnitus then?
It’s a benign bodily sensation that’s associated with some type of underlying condition.
Hearing loss being the most commonly related condition (in 90%+ of cases), however lifestyle, certain medications, injuries, and vestibular disorders can also cause or exacerbate the tinnitus “experience.”
If you are experiencing tinnitus, you will want to start with the basics:
- Get a hearing test with an audiologist to determine if there is any associated hearing loss.
- Work with your primary care doctor to treat or improve health conditions that may be contributing to your tinnitus.
It’s also very important for you to know this:
The tinnitus itself isn’t the problem. It’s the meaning you attach to the tinnitus that causes the suffering.
And this is not your fault.
Your brain and nervous system thinks it’s keeping you safe by triggering a fight or flight response, and once that’s triggered it’s very hard to think or rationalize your way out of it.
It then becomes an endless loop of what I call the Tinnitus Suffering Cycle.
By now you may be asking yourself: How do I even begin to do that?
The Root Cause of Tinnitus
If you haven’t already done so, get your hearing tested. You’ll want to rule out hearing loss brought on by exposure to loud noises or age related hearing loss and the need to consider a hearing aid.
Earlier I mentioned that tinnitus is associated with hearing loss in 90%+ of cases.
This is important for you to know because many people get relief by treating their hearing loss with hearing aids.
You’ll also want to rule out any underlying ear or other medical conditions that can actually be treated.
Unhealthy Coping With Tinnitus
Begin to take steps to begin improving your health.
Inflammation and disease caused by consuming unhealthy foods and the overconsumption of caffeine or alcohol can cause or exacerbate tinnitus.
Not taking time to rest and recover, overworking, or over-worrying can all keep your body in a chronic stress pattern, which can make the tinnitus worse.
A Tinnitus Support System
Healing from any condition is very hard to do alone. From a practical sense it’s also generally ineffective.
Trying to use willpower to break the pattern of tinnitus suffering is not sustainable, because willpower is a finite resource.
There’s only so much willpower available to us on any given day, and once it’s depleted it’s easy to fall back into the Tinnitus Suffering Cycle.
Being open to the power of a support system will only amplify your efforts for sustainable change.
Rewire Your Brain
There’s a ton of evidence showing that the brain is plastic.
“Plastic” means that the brain is pliable and changeable. You can eventually rewire your brain from suffering to peace.
Mindfulness and meditation are proven modalities that can help rewire your response to your tinnitus, helping you to rise above the noise, so to speak.
There is Hope for Your Tinnitus Relief!
As a functional audiologist, one of most important things I ask my clients to remember during their tinnitus journey is that there is hope.
You can find relief.
And you don’t have to do it alone.
It is definitely a process and one that can take time.
Feeling better in your mind and body is possible.
Tinnitus – Characteristics and Therapy (ResearchGate)
Tinnitus Overview (Mayo Clinic)