With chronic tinnitus, it’s not the ringing in your ears that’s the real problem. The real problem is that the ringing won’t stop.
The constant noise, perhaps rather modest in volume, might begin as little more than a nuisance. But after a day or a week or a month, that buzzing or ringing can become irritating, frustrating, even debilitating.
That’s why it’s essential to have some tips to fall back on–tips that make living with tinnitus easier. When you’re lying in bed, having trouble falling asleep because you keep hearing buzzing from your right ear, having a plan is going to do you a world of good.
How you can exacerbate your tinnitus
Chronic tinnitus, after all, is often not a static condition. There are spikes and valleys in the presentation of symptoms. Sometimes your tinnitus might be an afterthought, lost in the background of daily life. In other moments, that ringing could be as difficult to ignore as a full-blown, personalized symphony.
That can leave you in a rather scary place of uncertainty. Maybe you even get panic attacks while driving to work because you’re worried about your tinnitus flaring up during a meeting. That panic attack, in and of itself, can cause the very episode you’re worried about.
Tips for living with tinnitus
The more you know about tinnitus, the better you can prepare for and manage the effects. And, because there’s no known cure for tinnitus, management of symptoms is vital. With the right treatment, there’s no reason that chronic tinnitus needs to negatively impact your quality of life.
Consider tinnitus retraining therapy
Many treatments for tinnitus involve some form of tinnitus retraining therapy (or TRT). The analogy that gets floated around most often is the sound of rain on your rooftops: very noticeable at the start of a storm, but you stop paying attention to it after a while and that rain-on-rooftops sound fades into the background. It’s the same basic idea with TRT, training your brain to move that ringing into the background of your thoughts where it’s easier to ignore.
But that kind of therapy does require some buy-in from you. So investing in tinnitus retraining hearing–doing the exercises and following instructions–is key.
White noise is your friend
So-called white noise is any basic, nondescript noise that kind of fills a room. Common examples of white noise include fans and motors. The white noise fills the room and can help drown out or cancel out, at least in part, the buzzing in your ear. Because tinnitus varies from person to person, a white noise app is worth a try (especially since many of them are free). With an app, you can choose the specific white noise (be it fan or motor) that works best for you and your tinnitus.
Distract your brain
If white noise doesn’t work to help you forget about your tinnitus, then you might be able to find a way to distract your brain for a bit. One of the reasons that tinnitus can be so frustrating is because your brain is constantly searching for the source of that sound, trying to alert you to its presence. So giving your brain more (and varied) stimuli to concentrate on can help. You could:
- Take a bubble bath while reading a book.
- Have music playing while you paint a picture.
- Take a coloring book to the park and listen to the birds while you color.
You get the idea: engaging your brain can help you manage your tinnitus.
Alternately, many people have found that meditation helps because it focuses your attention on something else–your breath, a mantra, and so on.
Consider a hearing aid for tinnitus management
Many hearing aid companies have developed hearing aids that help minimize the ringing in your ear. Hearing aids are a great option because you put them in and can forget about it the entire day–you don’t need to carry around a white noise machine or constantly listen to an app. You can relax and let a discreet hearing aid take care of the ringing for you. Consider getting a demonstration from your hearing aid specialist.
Make a plan (and follow-through)
Making a plan for unexpected spikes can help you control your stress-out response–and that can help you minimize certain tinnitus episodes (or at least keep from exacerbating them). Consider having a “go bag” full of stuff you might need. Anything that can help you be prepared for a tinnitus spike–even making a list of helpful exercises–will be good because it will keep you from panicking!
Management is key
Chronic tinnitus is a condition that has no known cure. But that doesn’t mean that individuals cannot manage and treat their tinnitus. These daily tips (and more like them) can help make sure you are living with tinnitus–and not suffering from tinnitus.