An audiologist, like the ones at Hearing Health Clinic, has diagnosed that annoying ringing in your ears as tinnitus. Sometimes it's barely noticeable, but at other times, it makes it hard to concentrate on conversations with other people, your job and projects at home. Unless your tinnitus is caused by a medical condition that can be treated, it likely will not go away. Your doctor will work with you to create a plan containing a number of ways to deal with the ringing in your ears. Here are some of the ways to help you cope with your tinnitus.
Noise Suppression and Masking Devices
These devices attempt to help you in one of two ways:
- they produce sounds that mask the ringing in your ear so your brain can't distinguish between the two
- they produce sounds at the same frequency as the ringing so your brain eventually ignores both sounds
White noise generators - These are available as over-the-counter units that sit on your desk or next to your bed. They often produce natural sounds, such as ocean waves or the wind blowing through trees. As your mind focuses on the pleasant sound, it is less focused on the ringing. Some people use these devices to help them rest at night.
Noise masking devices - These devices are worn like hearing aids and produce a low level of white noise that blends in with the ringing in your ear. An audiologist will first test you to determine to which frequency your ringing is produced. They will then adjust the hearing device to generate white noise at that frequency. You brain will have difficulty separating the two frequencies and will eventually ignore both sounds.
Audio retraining devices - This device is similar to the noise masking devices, but they produce tones to match the frequency of your tinnitus. The audiologist will adjust the device to produce musical tones within the frequency of your tinnitus and your mind will, again, learn to ignore both sounds.
Along with these devices, your doctor may recommend various ways to manage how you react to the ringing in your ear.
Biofeedback training - This teaches you how to consciously control your body's response to the ringing by reducing your heart rate and blood pressure. As you become more irritated with the ringing, you'll feel stress and your heart rate and blood pressure will rise. Learning to control these will help you calm down when it becomes stressful.
Hypnosis therapy - A therapist will use a hypnotic state to teach your mind to think of something peaceful when it hears the ringing. This also reduces your stress response to the tinnitus. You'll learn self-hypnosis techniques so you can help yourself relax when you feel the stress building.
Mindfulness meditation - This is a type of meditation where you learn to separate yourself from the ringing. When doing this meditation, you learn to become an observer of the ringing, but not be affected by it. This type of meditation is helpful when your tinnitus interferes with getting a restful night's sleep.