Tinnitus is the sensation of ringing, buzzing, hissing or whistling in the ears with no external sound source. Approximately 15-20 percent of the population is affected by tinnitus. While for some it is a minor nuisance, for others it is debilitating. There is no cure for tinnitus, but fortunately there are techniques to help find relief.
There is a well-known link between stress and tinnitus. For many, stress triggers their tinnitus, and tinnitus also triggers stress. This can lead to a vicious cycle where each feeds the other, which can be difficult to escape from. Try to prevent this by employing stress-management techniques. Practicing mindfulness, trying deep breathing exercises, doing yoga and meditating have all been shown to help relieve stress, but some people find that even a simple walk outside can help.
Change Your Diet
Many tinnitus sufferers report that symptoms worsen after consuming sodium, sugar, caffeine, alcohol or tobacco. If any of these substances triggers your symptoms, try to reduce or eliminate it from your diet. It may be helpful to keep a log of what foods you consume and when you experience symptoms in order to identify a pattern.
Turn on Background Noise
It may sound counterintuitive to turn on background noise when you are bothered by sound, but it is actually more helpful to drown out the tinnitus sounds than to sit with them silently. During the day you can play music, an audiobook or a podcast, and if you’re bothered at night you can turn on a fan or humidifier to drown it out.
The goal of behavioral therapy when it comes to treating tinnitus is to change your emotional reaction to symptoms. In other words, if your tinnitus causes you to feel angry, anxious or depressed, a therapist can help you respond more positively. Common behavioral therapies for tinnitus include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
- Tinnitus activities treatment (TAT)
- Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT)
- Progressive tinnitus management (PTM)
- Sound therapy
Join a Support Group
Support groups for tinnitus are available nationally and locally, and some even meet online. Talking to others who share your struggles and experiences can help you feel less isolated.
For more information about tinnitus management or to schedule an appointment, call the Hearing & Balance Center at Charleston ENT.