If you’ve ever heard a ringing in your ears that’s not explained by noise around you, you’ve experienced Tinnitus. In fact, HealthDirect estimates that two out three Australians will experience a tinnitus episode at some point in their life.
Unfortunately, for some Australians, tinnitus is a constant struggle and severely impacts their quality of life.
If you’re one of the 10% of Australians estimated to suffer moderate to severe or constant tinnitus, it’s important you seek out therapies and lifestyle changes that can reduce the impact of tinnitus on your life.
While there is no cure for tinnitus, there are a variety of small optimisations you can pursue for relief, particularly when you’re in the midst of an attack.
In this guide, we’re running through a few therapeutic suggestions that can assist in managing your tinnitus. We’re always looking to expand our guides, if there’s something you’ve found effective shoot us an email at email@example.com.
Tip 1: Manage Stress
For many sufferers, tinnitus episodes are aggravated or even initiated by stress. It’s a vicious cycle: you stress about having another attack, the attack begins, and your stress levels increase — making the tinnitus worse. Healthy Hearing reports that managing stress can be a significant tool in managing tinnitus or assisting in the severity of attacks.
Managing stress can come in a variety of ways. You can focus on breathing exercises (Headspace have some free tips here). You can try and incorporate more physical exercise or outdoor activity into your daily routine. You can — as much as is possible — try and avoid stress triggers.
Tip 2: The Shower Is Your Friend
Hot water works to loosen up the muscles, removing the built-up tension in the body. In this way it’s a really useful support tool to the de-stressing guidance provided above. Some people also find that the sounds they experience during Tinnitus episodes are dampened by running the shower over their head (top tinnitus tip: wear a swim cap in the shower to improve the sound benefits and really block out ringing).
Please note: some tinnitus sufferers can actually have their episodes aggravated by the noise produced by the shower. In this case, try having a bath — you gain the same muscle relaxing properties without the sounds.
Tip 3: Mask The Sound
The tinnitus sufferer’s worst enemy is the quiet room. There’s nothing worse than sitting in your bedroom or a silent part of the house and finding all that peace and quiet merely making your tinnitus more noticeable. There are a few strategies for management during an attack, including:
- Listening to music. The radio or your earphones can be a great solution during a tinnitus episode, allowing you to focus on the voices or the melodies rather than the noises in your ears. Please note: don’t listen to music too loud, however. You should not be listening at more than 50% of the volume, remember: while its origins are mysterious, tinnitus is aggravated by hearing damage.
- Use white noise. A white noise machine (such as the Lectrofan) produces an effective, masking sound landscape that can help distract from tinnitus sounds. White noise operates by covering the entire audible spectrum of sound, which makes it great for filling silences (or covering noisy neighbours). For many sufferers, white noise provides a soothing and distracting atmosphere that allows them to get on with their day.
- Use ‘sound therapy’. For some tinnitus sufferers, sound therapy can be an effective way of countering or dampening attacks when they happen. One of the best resources available online is the Tinnitus Neuromodulator, available for free through MySounds.net. While this won’t work for all sufferers, it’s worth playing around and seeing if there’s a combination of sounds you find effective for your personal tinnitus sounds.
Tip 4: Manage intake of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
While the origins of tinnitus are not well understood, it’s important to recognise that you can note your own triggers and find ways of avoiding them to minimise the effect of episodes. In this case, while the role smoking, drinking, and caffeine remains undetermined, it’s still worth keeping track of your intake and how it relates to tinnitus episodes.
Start a tinnitus diary. Note when you’re having attacks, their severity, and how long they last for. At the same time, in a separate column, note your diet and activity. If you find that one coffee is okay but three coffees is associated with a particularly bad day, try cutting back. This method of recording and then varying your behaviour is the best way of finding triggers you may not have suspected, helping you manage your condition into the future.
Tip 5: Protect Your Ears
Okay this one may seem obvious but hey, we’re Earjobs after all. So many tinnitus sufferers link their present condition to hearing damage earlier in life. Undoubtedly, tinnitus is worsened the worse one’s hearing damage gets. If you ride motorcycles, play instruments, use power tools or listen to loud music, you should be wearing ear plugs.
Hearing damage is irreversible. It compounds tinnitus over time.
If you’re looking for a starting point for your hearing protection journey, we have a guide covering a variety of different uses including:
Tinnitus is a serious challenge for sufferers, causing continued stress, pain, and a substantially lower quality of life. However, while there is no cure, there are a variety of treatments that can improve a person’s experience and make the condition manageable. If you’ve found something that works for you, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org