We’ve all experienced a ringing or slight buzzing in the ears. But what happens when it doesn’t fade away? If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. The American Tinnitus Association estimates that nearly 50 million Americans live with tinnitus. Tinnitus is a frustrating condition as it can be difficult to identify or know why it’s happening. Tinnitus is most commonly experienced as a ringing or buzzing in the ears, but it can also sound like hissing or even a whistling sound. Tinnitus leads to discomfort and makes communication more difficult. While tinnitus does not always lead to hearing loss, it is a common early indicator of future hearing loss.
You don’t need to suffer with tinnitus. There are a variety of tinnitus treatment options and one of the more recent methods is tinnitus habituation. But does tinnitus habituation work? What is tinnitus habituation? Is it quick, expensive, or even possible? Here, we take a look at tinnitus habituation and how it’s used to treat tinnitus and help people improve their daily lives.
WHAT IS TINNITUS?
Tinnitus is most often experienced as a ringing or slight buzzing in the ears that doesn’t go away. There are two main types of tinnitus: subjective or objective tinnitus. Subjective tinnitus, which is much more common, occurs when you’re the only one who can hear that slight buzzing in your ears. Objective tinnitus, on the other hand, can even be heard by someone else, like a doctor during a checkup. Tinnitus can also be temporary or a chronic, ongoing condition.
WHAT CAUSES TINNITUS?
Tinnitus is often difficult to diagnose because it can have a multitude of causes. There is no one direct cause of tinnitus. Rather, tinnitus can be caused by many factors and is also often a symptom of other underlying issues. Here are some of the most common causes of tinnitus:
- Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can occur naturally with old age. It’s most common for those 60 and older to begin feeling the effects of age-related hearing loss.
- Loud Noises
Exposure to loud noises is a primary cause of tinnitus.
Excessive ear wax can build up in the ear canal and lead to tinnitus. While natural and actually beneficial to your ear’s health, too much ear wax could be the culprit to your tinnitus.
- Ear Bone Stiffening
We often don’t think about it, but we do have bones in our ears. The bones in your middle ear can stiffen, which causes stress to the ear and can even develop into tinnitus.
- Muscle Spasms
The small muscles in your inner ear, like any muscle in your body, can tense up and spasm.
- Head or Neck Injuries
Severe injuries to the head or neck can also result in tinnitus. This is just one more reason why it’s essential to protect your head and neck at all times
WHAT IS TINNITUS HABITUATION?
Tinnitus can be a very frustrating condition. To those who aren’t suffering from tinnitus, the minor ringing in the ears may seem like no big deal. But for those of us who do experience tinnitus, we know how difficult it can be to go about your daily life. When we’re bothered by tinnitus, we get stressed, frustrated, and more easily upset. This stress can actually make your tinnitus worse. Tinnitus and the stress it can cause often work as a vicious circle with one feeding into the other and growing increasingly worse. It can be near impossible to find relief.
But that’s where tinnitus habituation comes in. Since there is no medical cure for tinnitus, one of the most effective methods for helping those suffering from the condition is to help them cope and live well—essentially, to adapt to life with tinnitus. According to the American Tinnitus Association, habituation is the reduction in the response to a stimulus after repeated exposure. Therefore, in terms of tinnitus, the idea is that, through specific strategies and techniques, you can learn to respond less to the ringing in your ears.
Think about taking a delicious bite of chocolate cake. That first bite is savory, rich, and sweet. What about the second bite? Still delicious, right? But then, consider you lack the will power to just enjoy one slice and end up ending the entire cake? Those last few bites probably don’t taste anywhere near as good as the first few. This is habituation. Through repeated exposure (to positive or negative stimuli) our bodies make the proper adjustments and work to normalize the experience.
Think about it. In your daily life, you tune out and ignore noises all the time. Tinnitus habituation uses this ability to help focus the habituation on that ringing in your ears. Your brain is able to control the way that it receives external stimuli through your senses. In a way, your brain lowers and raises the volume of certain sounds. Whichever sound seems more important, like a friend telling a funny story at a crowded, loud party, your brain can isolate that sound and enhance it while dimming other sounds. Tinnitus habituation helps you hone these natural skills.
DOES TINNITUS HABITUATION WORK?
To cut to the point—yes. Tinnitus habituation has been proven to work for so many people because it takes a personalized approach to a very personal condition. But it’s important to remember that tinnitus habituation is not a silver bullet. There is no medical cure for tinnitus, but through tinnitus habituation, you can adapt and learn to live better with this condition. Through specific strategies, techniques, and finely tuned awareness, you can effectively tune out that ringing in your ears. With many great programs available, there’s certainly a way for you to find relief from your tinnitus.
Tinnitus can be a frustrating and difficult part of your daily life. While there is no instant remedy or solution, you can find methods and strategies for living with your tinnitus. Tinnitus habituation is focused on the individual and using your own awareness and abilities to combat the effects of tinnitus and adjust to the condition. If you’re suffering from tinnitus, realize that you don’t need to suffer any longer. If you think it could be right for you, explore your options and give tinnitus habituation a try.