Keep TINNITUS under CONTROL
The extent to which tinnitus affects a person’s life depends on various factors: on the volume, frequency and duration of the noise, and on the person’s individual perception of it. Tinnitus itself is not regarded as an illness but as a symptom, similar to pain. In contrast to an illness where the goal is to cure the cause, one can often only treat tinnitus as a condition. It’s mainly a question of controlling the noise in the ear. Even if tinnitus isn’t an illness in itself, it can assume the proportions of one. When excessive, the strain caused by tinnitus may cause sleeping problems, fear and depression.
How to control tinnitus
The noise of tinnitus is quickly perceived as a nuisance, and you tend to listen for it against your will. The ‘enemy in your ear’ is an apt description – because it is truly the beginning of a vicious circle. Initially, you might try to shun social contact in an attempt to rest. But this withdrawal also limits auditory experiences, social contact, and other forms of distraction. Tinnitus then attracts more attention. In turn, a growing feeling of despair at being unable to do anything about the noise, coupled with the fear that it might get worse, ensures that the brain focuses awareness on the tinnitus. This is the cycle that needs to be stopped. You have to push tinnitus out of the limelight – and win control over it.
Even if no specific cause is determined, tinnitus can be treated. There are many ways for patients to cope with their condition – by changing habits and attitudes so that tinnitus no longer controls their everyday lives. The term tinnitus management covers various ways of adopting a new approach to tinnitus.
So-called cognitive-behavioral tinnitus training, for instance, is very promising. Your personal mindset and feelings play a decisive role in this method. Training sessions with varied content promote self-help. Training focuses on targeted information, an analysis of the person’s behavior, practical exercises and positive experiences. Cognitive-behavioral tinnitus training focuses on the following aspects:
- Detailed explanation of the tinnitus symptom: fact and fiction
- Why is it so important not to listen to tinnitus; what role is played by our emotions and inner feelings?
- What role does stress play concerning tinnitus?
- Learning relaxation methods
- Practicing imaginary journeys to elicit positive emotions
- Transforming negative thoughts and attitudes into a helpful (“I can beat tinnitus”) mindset
- Weaning off habits that encourage tinnitus, e.g. withdrawing from your circle of friends, avoiding activities
- What to do if tinnitus should come to the forefront again (accustomizing techniques)
- Acoustic stimulation and training for use of hearing instruments, noisers, combined devices or other audio sources to deflect attention away from tinnitus