Do you have persistent ringing, buzzing or humming in your ears? If you do, it is likely you have tinnitus. Tinnitus is a term used for noises heard in the absence of any external sounds. It is very common, affecting around 10% of the UK population. Tinnitus can be irritating, making it difficult to concentrate or get to sleep.
While there is no ‘cure’ for tinnitus, there is plenty of tinnitus treatment options that can help. It is important to know that most tinnitus settles down and becomes more manageable over time. The first step to receiving the correct help, advice and support is to attend an initial free tinnitus consultation appointment with us. Our audiologists can introduce you to a structured way of managing your tinnitus, using elements of Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
TRT is a structured approach to managing your tinnitus, using sound at a particular level to try to reduce the priority of the tinnitus, so that you can no longer hear it. The process of getting used to the tinnitus sound is called habituation. TRT uses sound generators and counselling to retrain how the brain processes sound so that you habituate to the tinnitus.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a psychological approach based on the idea that when you became aware of your tinnitus, you responded to it negatively. For example, you may have thought that there was something seriously wrong with your hearing (a belief) and this led to you being anxious (an emotion), then you did something to try to make it better, for example avoiding silence (a behaviour). Some beliefs and behaviours are helpful and that is great – keep doing them! But some beliefs and behaviours are unhelpful and CBT helps you to recognise them, and then to find different ways of responding to the tinnitus so it becomes less bothersome.
The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to help your tinnitus. One management strategy is sound enrichment and another is relaxation.
Sound enrichment works by reducing the difference, or contrast, between tinnitus sounds and background noises. It is important to avoid silence and always maintain some background sound to reduce the perception of the tinnitus. This could be done by opening a window and listening to birdsong, or using a CD or mobile app to provide natural sounds or broadband noise.
It is common for people with tinnitus to have some form of hearing loss. Hearing aids act as a form of sound enrichment, as they amplify background sounds making the tinnitus seem less audible. Many of our hearing aids have a tinnitus feature which plays broadband or natural sounds to provide sound enrichment.
Reducing emotional distress and external irritants has a positive effect on tinnitus. When you relax, your breathing and heartbeat slow down and you gain greater control over your emotions, and the way you react to things like your tinnitus. Breathing exercises, mindfulness and yoga are all helpful.
Our audiologists at The Hearing Care Partnership, will obtain information about the status of your hearing and tinnitus, exploring how you can best use elements of TRT and CBT, sound enrichment and relaxation to manage your tinnitus.
Book your free hearing test today
If you think you may be suffering with tinnitus, or any other hearing condition, book a free hearing test with us today. Call 0800 52 00 546, book your free hearing test online or pop into your nearest THCP practice.