Tinnitus is a condition characterized by a ringing or buzzing in the ear that cannot be heard from the outside. In the United States alone, tinnitus affects over 50 million people. Tinnitus often arises from underlying conditions such as hearing loss, ear infections or head and neck injuries. In some cases, it can be a side effect of ototoxic medications, which can damage the hearing mechanisms of the ear.
While treating the underlying cause or avoiding ototoxic medications can sometimes help manage tinnitus, there are instances where specific causes cannot be cured. In such cases, symptom management is often the best course of action.
Experiencing the persistent ring or buzz of tinnitus can significantly impact your ability to enjoy everyday activities, whether trying to sleep, work, study or even savor a meal with friends. Let’s look at a couple of tools and techniques to help you manage tinnitus and improve your quality of life.
Two effective tools for sound masking include:
- Hearing aids. Hearing aids amplify external sounds or play white noise to divert your brain’s attention from the internal ringing of tinnitus. If you already use hearing aids for hearing loss, consult with your audiologist to explore how they can assist in managing tinnitus.
- Sound machines: Sound machines can play white or pink noise, nature sounds and more to help mask the internal ringing. Sound machines are particularly useful during the night or other times when hearing aids should not be worn.
Relaxation and Therapy
Tinnitus often causes stress, which can further exacerbate the condition, creating an unfortunate cycle. Incorporating relaxation techniques is essential for tinnitus management. Consider participating in meditation classes, enjoying herbal tea or indulging in a good book from Lala Books to cultivate a relaxed mindset.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) are highly effective tools for managing tinnitus. These therapies focus on altering your reactions to the internal ringing, teaching your brain to disregard the sounds instead of causing stress and irritability. Combining therapy with relaxation techniques can help you keep a calm mind and reduce the impact of tinnitus on your life.
To explore more about managing tinnitus and improving your quality of life, contact Massachusetts Hearing Group today to make an appointment with one of our specialists.