Some 50 million people in the United States and approximately 240 million people worldwide have tinnitus. Despite many “snake-oil” solutions that are pervasive, especially on the Internet, the hard truth is that currently there is no cure for tinnitus.
There are, however, a number of tools available that can—and do—help people to reduce the symptoms of tinnitus. MindfulTinnitusRelief.com is one such approach: an eight-week online program focused on reframing people’s experience with tinnitus. This includes elements of deep breathing, yoga, relaxation, and meditation.
One of the central goals of the program is to help people reframe their relationship with tinnitus through accepting the sound, reducing the negative effects, and, ultimately, utilizing inner resources to make the tinnitus unimportant.
I emphasize that Mindful Tinnitus Relief is not a replacement for any medications or devices people with tinnitus are using. Rather, the program is designed as a complement to existing therapies (which explains Hearing Tracker’s gracious posting of these words).
Some common questions and statements made by people with tinnitus:
- Will my tinnitus make my hearing worse?
- Can loud sounds and noise make my tinnitus worse?
- If I didn’t have tinnitus, I wouldn’t have so much trouble hearing.
- My tinnitus interferes with my ability to hear.
- If I could fix my tinnitus, then I could hear again.
It is not uncommon for people with hearing loss and tinnitus to believe that their tinnitus is the cause of their difficulty hearing, especially when in groups or in loud settings. However, tinnitus is a symptom of hearing loss but NOT the cause. An undiagnosed hearing loss may be at the root of the hearing difficulty, rather than the tinnitus itself. As we know, a visit to the audiologist to have an audiogram will clarify if hearing loss actually exists.
Hearing aids amplify external sound, which may result both in better hearing and the tinnitus becoming less noticeable and more manageable. The stress and fatigue that often results when a person is straining to hear may also exacerbate tinnitus annoyance. Being fitted with hearing aids therefore can improve hearing, while reducing tinnitus bother for some people.
The using of hearing aids has been found to be very successful for some people with tinnitus. Some of the reasons why:
- A reduction in stress related to difficulty in hearing.
- A lessening of demands on the parts of the brain that determine whether a sound should be paid attention to or ignored.
- A reduction in the perception of tinnitus by amplifying sounds in a person’s surroundings.
- “Easier” hearing helps to reduce stress and increases relaxation.
With positive metrics—both quantitative and qualitative—from participants, Mindful Tinnitus Relief approaches the challenges for those with tinnitus in a holistic manner. Combining disciplines and devices, we are extremely encouraged about making the possibility of healing a reality for those with tinnitus.
Jennifer Gans, PsyD, is the Founder and CEO of MindfulTinnitusRelief.com. She is a San Franciso-based clinical psychologist specializing in the psychological impact of deafness, tinnitus, and hearing on well-being. Dr. Gans is on the Board of Directors of the Tinnitus Practitioners Association (TPA), a non-profit professional organization dedicated to providing tinnitus and sound sensitivity care.
Last modified: September 12, 2016