One of the hardest things for people experiencing tinnitus to deal with is that there is no cure. In this day and age we like, and even expect, there to be a pill that we can take or a cream that we can use to make ourselves well. With tinnitus, it’s a bit more complicated than that…
…but, don’t despair. There are still lots of ways to manage tinnitus so that it has a minimal impact on your daily life and well-being. The tips below are a general guide- there is no one-size-fits-all formula! Yet by applying them to your life and activities, you can stop tinnitus from calling the shots.
- Keep up with your hobbies
Even in short-term cases of tinnitus, continuing with your daily activities and distracting yourself from the noise can be the key to getting rid of it. In cases of persistent tinnitus, which may be as high as 10%, this is even more important!
While distraction may not get rid of tinnitus, it can stop your brain from focusing on it. Every day our brains are bombarded with signals from our ears, most of which get filtered out as ‘background noise’. By focusing on other things, our brains are prompted to do the same with tinnitus ‘noise’. While the sound may still be there, it won’t be as noticeable.
Think of it like having roadworks outside of your house: this can be incredibly annoying and disruptive to your concentration, but once you’re absorbed in a good book or TV programme, the noise is filtered out.
- Avoid Silence
When you’re experiencing chronic tinnitus, silence may be all you want. However, because tinnitus is internal, being in a silent environment can make the noise seem even louder.
Limiting exposure to loud noises is definitely worth doing to protect yourself from further damage, but instead of going in to complete silence, having some background noise can be very helpful.
Putting music on or singing to yourself can help to block out tinnitus during the day. Moreover, if you have hearing loss, some hearing aids come with a ‘white noise’ setting specially designed to manage tinnitus. If you’re new to hearing aids, though, just be aware that they can take some time to get used to!
Alternatively, natural sounds like rain tracks can be very helpful, especially for getting to sleep, or doing a task that requires concentration. These can be downloaded from Spotify, or found on websites like Rainy Mood. ASMR videos on Youtube, or the phone app ‘Headspace’ can also be very useful as non-disruptive backing noise to help block out tinnitus.
- Manage stress
As well as being worsened by stress and anxiety, tinnitus can also cause stress and anxiety. After all, there’s few things more stressful than having a constant sound in your ears that you can’t get away from!
It is almost impossible to make your life completely stress-free, but there are lots of things that can help you to manage daily stress. Sometimes the best ways are the simplest; putting aside just a bit of time each day for some self-care can really do a lot for stress management and self-esteem. These days it is far too easy to expect ourselves to function like robots, but in reality everyone needs some time out, and making this a regular activity can also help you establish a routine.
If you’re worried that your feelings of anxiety or depression are impacting on your daily life or health, be sure to visit your GP or call/text Mind’s mental health infoline.
- Get it off your chest
Having a persistent condition like tinnitus can often feel isolating. It can be very difficult for others to imagine what its like to experience something chronically (“wait, you still have that?”), and sufferers may be concerned about being seen as a ‘moaner.’ Some may even worry about being blamed for developing tinnitus.
This is why attending a support group can be really beneficial.
While distraction is very important for dealing with tinnitus, its not always possible (or useful) to just pretend it doesn’t exist all the time. Tinnitus can be really distressing, and it can helpful just to acknowledge your own distress, feel validated and understood. If you’re local to York, try the Yorsensory Tinnitus Support Group for a friendly, non-judgemental place to get things off your chest.
Even just reading the stories of others with tinnitus can be helpful. Check out this brilliantly honest account from one of the Yorsensory’s support group members, or blogger Jess’ website about living with tinnitus as a young person.
Not only can this help you find advice on managing tinnitus, knowing that there are people who understand can help you to feel less alone and more confident in yourself. Just knowing that tinnitus does not have to take over your life can make a world of difference.
Want to talk about tinnitus now? Call the Tinnitus Hotline on 0808 808 666 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm) for information and support.