Tinnitus is a condition characterised by the sounds of ringing, buzzing, whistling, humming, hissing or other noises in one or both ears. The sound can be continuous or intermittent and may vary in volume. It's a relatively common condition and can occur at any age.
In fact, according to healthcare service BUPA, one in 10 people will experience mild tinnitus at some point in their lives. Some will experience volumes of low-level background noise. Others will endure high-pitched rumbling sensations that drown out everyday sounds.
While there is no quick fix, tinnitus can often improve over time. It’s important you seek advice from your doctor to see if there is an underlying cause that can be treated, such as an ear infection or a buildup of earwax.
What is tinnitus?
The most common type of tinnitus occurs in the form of high-pitched sounds. However, symptoms can materialise in a variety of noises and sensations.
Tinnitus is rarely a sign of a more serious underlying condition. Though in some cases, it can have a significant impact on everyday life. For some people, symptoms can come and go, but for others, it can be very distressing. It can affect concentration levels and may cause problems such as insomnia and depression.
There are a number of health problems thought to be associated with tinnitus. Various factors may be involved which can trigger symptoms of tinnitus, such as hearing loss, age-related deafness and genetic damage to the inner ear (including otosclerosis). Regular exposure to loud music, especially in younger people, can also cause sounds of tinnitus.
Less common problems thought to trigger symptoms include:
- high blood pressure
- ear infection and blockages
- thyroid problems
- head injuries
Living with tinnitus
Tinnitus is very individual. Some people will only occasionally experience symptoms and so the condition can be easier to live with. Others may experience a constant ringing of loud noises, and hearing this all day, every day can have a detrimental effect on their quality of life.
The condition can cause a great deal of psychological stress, especially as the sounds cannot be escaped and are more or less continuous. The persistent, loud and disturbing noises can lead to feelings of frustration, fear, anger and anxiety. While stress is not a cause of tinnitus, it can exacerbate it. When our quality of life is affected as a result of a condition you cannot control, it's unsurprising that stress can occur.
Many of the treatments available will focus on improving everyday life and helping you cope with symptoms. Hypnosis for tinnitus can be effective for not only addressing symptoms but also the associated stress.
Here, those living with tinnitus share how relaxation affects their symptoms (via The British Tinnitus Association).
Tinnitus tends to be more noticeable in certain situations, such as in a quiet place. When there isn’t any background noise to cause a distraction, the ringing of tinnitus can appear more obvious. As a result, many people will find it difficult to relax and the quality of sleep may worsen.
If you are concerned that you are suffering from tinnitus, it is important to have your health checked by a doctor or specialist. They will recommend further investigation and treatment as appropriate. If the underlying cause is unclear, your treatment will focus on making day-to-day life more manageable.
Many people seek the help of complementary medicines to relieve their tinnitus symptoms and train the mind to live in peace with the sounds. Hypnosis for tinnitus is an increasingly popular form of tinnitus treatment, which can greatly improve the quality of life for sufferers.
Currently, there is no one treatment that works for everyone. If an underlying cause is found, treating this may improve your tinnitus. Even if a physical cause can't be found, there are still treatments available that can help alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life. Treatments include sound therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) and hypnotherapy.
Sound therapy - Sound therapy aims to fill the quieter environments with neutral sounds, to help distract from the sounds of tinnitus. This may include listening to music, opening the window or leaving the television on.
Cognitive behavioural therapy - CBT focuses on the way you think. Often used to treat mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, it works to change the way you think about tinnitus so it’s not as noticeable.
Tinnitus retraining therapy - TRT focuses on changing the way your brain responds to the condition. It aims to help retrain the brain so you are able to ‘tune out’ and become less aware of the sounds.
Hypnotherapy for tinnitus
Hypnotherapy is a modified state of consciousness, which allows the subconscious mind to be more open to selective and positive suggestion. While there is not yet a cure for tinnitus, we are able to decide how to respond to symptoms. It can be very effective in dealing with the psychological aspects of tinnitus, such as anger, stress and anxiety.
As everyone will experience tinnitus differently, the hypnotherapy treatment will be individual. Your hypnotherapist will talk to you about your symptoms, to understand how you are experiencing tinnitus and how they can help you. If you decide to go ahead with hypnotherapy, sessions will be tailored to your individual experience of tinnitus, in order to treat you effectively.
Hypnotherapy will include a variety of techniques to help you feel more at peace with the noise. By guiding your subconscious mind to process the sounds of tinnitus the same way as everyday background noise, hypnosis for tinnitus can make the sounds seem less threatening and easier to live with.
By working with the mind (in particular, the part of the subconscious that stores memory, imagination and habits) hypnotherapy can help train the mind and change the client’s reaction to tinnitus. By changing the way the mind reacts to tinnitus sounds, other health problems linked with tinnitus may also improve.
Hypnotherapist John Taylor talks about hypnotherapy for tinnitus:
Whilst it might not be possible to remove the tinnitus, we have an element of choice in how we respond to it. Hypnotherapy can act on a subconscious level to assist in the reduction of hypervigilance - that habit of constantly looking out for the noise to reappear.
- Hypnotherapist Fiona Vitel discusses hypnotherapy for internet addiction.
Please consult your doctor if you suspect you are suffering from tinnitus. It's important you rule out any physical cause before considering hypnotherapy.
Some people have also found practising self-help techniques useful for managing symptoms of tinnitus. Relaxation is key in maintaining overall well-being and can help improve sleep quality.
It's also encouraged you talk to someone. Going through this alone is no easy journey and simply talking about how you feel can be a huge relief. Other self-help techniques include:
- Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation and deep breathing.
- Listening to calming music to help you unwind and feel ready for bed.
- Distracting yourself by keeping busy, socialising or taking up a hobby.
- Thinking positive can help you forget the sounds of tinnitus and focus on the positive aspects of life.
- Talking to somebody can be a great help. Whether it’s a friend, a counsellor, a hypnotherapist or a support group. Experiencing a health condition can be very lonely, so talking can be very beneficial.
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