OTHER TINNITUS THERAPIES
Sound Therapy/Sound Enriched Environment
Used while awake or asleep, sound therapy involves avoiding quiet time. Your brain tries to hear any sound more clearly in quiet, including the sound of your tinnitus. Sound therapy includes increasing background sounds whenever the background is quiet. In doing so, sound therapy reduces the contrast between your tinnitus and background sound, thereby reducing the bother of your tinnitus and the tension is causes.
Throughout sound therapy, habitation will occur, where your brain becomes unaware of the tinnitus. For example, residents of homes with a grandfather clock typically no longer hear the clock chime every hour (they have become habituated to the sound), unlike visitors who are not only aware of the chime but may even be bothered by it. Examples of helpful background sounds include a television, radio, recorded music, a fan, natural sounds through an open window, small devices that play white noise, and/or a hearing aid.
Stress can aggravate tinnitus, and tinnitus can be very stressful. It is important to learn to manage stress. Relaxation exercise may include aromatherapy, massage therapy, reflexology, acupuncture, self-hypnosis, adequate sleep, and/or resting in a relaxing environment, such as one with special aromas, dim lights and soft music. Relaxation may also be sought by reading books, listening to audiotapes or taking relaxation exercise classes to learn more about various methods and techniques that help people relax. These exercises may include breathing and muscle exercises.
Here is an example of a breathing exercise:
Breathe slowly and deeply, and then hold your breath a moment. Relax and let your breath out. Wait a moment, and then breathe slowly and deeply again, and so on.
Overtime with practice, you may start to feel the benefits from these exercises by gradually learning how to relax your body. As you learn to relax your body, you will also find it easier to relax your mind.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy was developed by neurophysiologist Pawel Jastreboff, Ph.D. The ultimate goal is to “retrain” the brain to habituate to the tinnitus signal. This references the limbic and autonomic systems consisting of emotions and behavioral reactions. The tinnitus must undergo specific conditioning procedures to be processed differently as a meaningless, unimportant signal. Two strategies include removing any negative thoughts or fears that may be associated with the tinnitus perception and by removing the tinnitus from conscious perception. The latter can be accomplished if the first is successful.
Promoting General Health and Well Being
High blood pressure, thyroid dysfunction, vertigo, diabetes, and hormonal changes and/or imbalances may be a cause for your tinnitus. Physical problems such as neck, head and back pain and TMJ disorders may also result in tinnitus. Often certain foods, drinks, activities, or situations aggravate your tinnitus and you should therefore consider cutting down on them, cutting them out or finding alternatives. For example, by reducing your caffeine and alcoholic beverages and increasing light exercise, you may find that your tinnitus lessens and your general health will likely improve. Additionally, it is important to live an active life that gives balance to your personal and work lives. Hobbies and interests outside work can help you enjoy life to the fullest. A silver lining to tinnitus for some is that it helped give a push to try something new and rekindle old interests. Below is a list of herbal supplements that are thought to help reduce tinnitus, however, none have undergone rigorous scientific study on the true benefits.
Ginkgo Biloba, Chelated Zinc, Garlic, B- Complex, Folic Acid, Calcium, Magnesium, Lipoflavoids, Flax Seed Oils
No single medication works consistently from patient to patient. This is likely due to the multiple etiologies or causes of tinnitus. Prescription based pharmaceuticals have been used to attempt to reduce the perception and provide relief from tinnitus, such as anesthetics, anticonvulsants, tranquilizers, antidepressants, etc (Bauer and Brozoski, 2008).
Contrary to popular belief, earplugs will not help your tinnitus. They will make the tinnitus seem worse while you wear them! The reason is because earplugs prevent your ears from getting accustomed to normal sounds, especially if you have hyperacusis, (a heightened sensitivity to sound). Earplugs or any hearing protection should only be worn for situations when being exposed to loud or unbearably loud sounds.