Finding it hard to catch a break from your tinnitus?
While there is no cure for tinnitus, achieving sustained tinnitus relief is certainly possible! Sometimes some good old fashioned distraction for your ears can do just the trick. Read on to learn about sound therapy and how it helps many tinnitus sufferers get relief and improve their quality of life.
February 2021, 12th
A great way of learning to ‘tune out’ from chronic tinnitus is through the use of sound therapy. Many people find that sound therapy is an effective tool for managing their tinnitus everyday. While it may sound complicated or expensive, sound therapy is a term for using different environmental sounds to help take your attention away from your tinnitus. Sound therapy is helpful because:
Habituation is the process by which we become used to something, and it is relevant to the experience of tinnitus. When we habituate to our tinnitus, it means our brain is changing the way it interprets tinnitus. Instead of your brain interpreting tinnitus as annoying, frustrating and bothersome, it will learn to interpret it as just another noise and filter it out.
Sounds too good to be true? Your brain actually habituates all the time!
For example, if you wear glasses, you’ll know that the first time you wore them, you probably couldn’t help but notice them. You are aware of the weight of them on your nose and the feeling of the arms pressing against the sides of your head. However, over time your brain learns to filter those sensations out to the point where you forget you are wearing them at all.
The same thing happens with sound too. For example, this is why you can focus on a conversation you’re having on the phone without consciously noticing the sound of the dishwasher in the background.
This principle can be applied to tinnitus when we try sound therapy. By playing sounds into our ears at a level similar or just above our tinnitus we can 1) distract our ears from the sound of our tinnitus with other neutral sounds and 2) teach our brain to ‘filter out’ and become used to the sound of our tinnitus. The good news is that it’s easy to do anytime and anywhere.
Trying out sound therapy is easy to do at home and doesn’t need to be expensive. It can be as simple as switching on a fan or air purifier in your room when you are trying to go to sleep at night. If your tinnitus bothers you when you are home alone, you could try keeping the TV or radio on at a low level in the background while you go about your day. Music or a sound generator with white noise or nature noises may also be helpful.
If you have hearing loss, hearing aids may be a useful tool for sound therapy. Many hearing aids currently available also have an inbuilt sound therapy feature. You can visit an audiologist for a hearing assessment and discussion of your options.
The Tinnibot App has a selection of sounds that you can use at any time to give your ears a break. You can transport yourself to another place by relaxing and listening to the sounds of a Starry Night or to imagine yourself in the midst of Windy Uluru. You can even adjust the sounds to your preferences using the sliders in the app.
Remember that your brain is like a muscle - that means you need to train it to habituate every day! The Tinnibot app allows you to set reminders so you won’t forget to do your Sound Therapy. Try setting the timer for five minutes now and notice what happens with your tinnitus symptoms.