What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a sound heard in your ears which isn’t generated by any external sound. Many people experience tinnitus at some point in their lives. Usually it’s ringing in the ears, although other sounds are also heard. And, for most people, fortunately tinnitus is temporary. However about 2 or 3% suffer from tinnitus badly. It has a serious effect on their ability to enjoy their lives.
Tinnitus is often first noticeable after you’ve been exposed to loud noise. This could be at work, a concert, or hearing a firework go off. Temporary tinnitus following loud noise usually lasts from 24 hours to a week or so. Everyone experiences tinnitus differently. For some it’s constant, for some it comes and goes. The noise you hear is described in different ways. These include ears ringing, roaring, buzzing, hissing, whistling, or like the noise which crickets make. You may also experience a loss of balance.
Some of our response to tinnitus is emotional
We hear noise around us all the time. The brain sorts these into order. If you’re watching TV your brain will filter out other sounds. You can easily ignore the hoover upstairs or someone mowing the lawn next door. These aren’t important, so you don’t listen. But YOU tell yourself which sounds are important. You respond more if the doorbell rings at 3am than in the day, because it’s worrying.
If you worry about your tinnitus, then you can’t help but listen out for it. Is it louder today? Is it quieter? If it’s louder, why? How long is it going to go on for? Does it mean I have a serious illness? The more you worry about it the more important the noise seems. Then the more you listen out for it. It’s a downward spiral.
Objective tinnitus and subjective tinnitus
Some noises in the head can be heard by other people. A doctor with a stethoscope can hear your blood flowing, your neck creaking or your jaw working. Sometimes tinnitus can be heard with a stethoscope by another person. This is called objective tinnitus.
Sometimes only you can hear the noise. It can’t he beard by anyone else. But to you, the person whose ear is making tinnitus, it’s really loud. This is because it is produced inside your ear, which acts as a microphone. When the noise is inaudible to a third party, this is called subjective tinnitus.
Most people have some sorts of ear noise, or noise inside their head, all the time. If stuck in a soundproof booth, with no other noise, most of us would experience tinnitus. However, most people don’t notice the slight background ringing in the ears the majority of the time. This is because you’re distracted by the noise going on around you.
Your attention is drawn away from the internal noise by the various external noises. However, when your hearing has been damaged, the distraction of other noises is absent. This means that you’re more aware of your ears ringing.
Tinnitus and insomnia
Many people who have tinnitus find that their sleep is affected. About half of all tinnitus sufferers also struggle with insomnia. Most tinnitus sufferers say their tinnitus is worse at night. The steps specifically advised to help tinnitus will also help you to sleep better
You should avoid stimulants such as coffee, Coke or energy drinks. Try to exercise, learn relaxation techniques, and learn to reduce your anxiety. Hypnosis are very effective for this. Manchester Hypnotherapy can help you reduce the stress caused by sleeplessness and the vicious circle that can arise from this. You’re not sleeping, so you worry about not sleeping, which then makes you unable to sleep – and so on.
What causes tinnitus?
There is no one single cause, and often the cause remains unknown. Some cases of tinnitus are associated with hearing loss. It makes no difference what’s caused the hearing loss. So it can be due to damage caused by noise, by age, by infection in the ear, or due to a blockage. Earwax in the external auditory canal can cause it. Less common causes are medications which affect the middle ear (for example, some antibiotics). Cardiovascular disease, and aspirin taken in high doses (more than 12 per day) has been linked to tinnitus.
Tinnitus and TMJ Disorder
TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) Disorder may in turn cause tinnitus. TMJ problems can be caused by stress and anxiety. This type of tinnitus responds extremely well to hypnotherapy. Meniere’s Disease may be a cause, as can acoustic neuroma. Acoustic neuroma is a tumour, but it is benign. This means that it is not cancer, can’t spread and won’t cause your death.
Whatever the cause, stress and anxiety play a significant role in tinnitus. As with Irrritable Bowel Syndrome – IBS and Restless Leg Syndrome, tinnitus is one of many physical conditions widely thought to be made worse by stress.
Often, people who really struggle with tinnitus also suffered from stress, anxiety or depression before they became aware of the ringing in their ears. And sometimes anxiety and stress is brought about by the onset of tinnitus. Your hearing is part of your general nervous system. This means it is sensitive to everything that affects overall health. And stress is known beyond doubt to have a direct effect on the body.
It is recommended that before seeking hypnotherapy to help with tinnitus you rule out any underlying physical problems by undergoing medical examination with your GP or an ENT (ear, nose and throat) consultant.
Can tinnitus make you go deaf?
No! Absolutely not. This is something which really causes a lot of anxiety and worry for tinnitus sufferers. What causes the confusion is that many people first notice ear noise when their hearing is impaired. This might happen for example if your ears are blocked when you have a cold. Because you can’t hear what is going on outside you pay more attention to the noise in your head. It’s simply because there is no other noise to disguise the internal noise in your head.
This is why, if you suffer from tinnitus, you may often find that it is worse at night. There is less exterior noise to distract you. But whilst deafness (complete or partial; temporary or permanent) may make you aware of tinnitus, it doesn’t work the other way. Tinnitus does not cause you to go deaf.
Is there a cure for tinnitus?
Many people panic when they have tinnitus because they may have heard that there is “no cure”. All that means is that there isn’t one single method which can be guaranteed to work for absolutely everybody, again. You may know many people who’ve survived cancer, but people say there is no “cure for cancer”, and no cure for bad backs. Yet there are millions of people walking around who have benefitted from treatments they have received.
There are many treatments which are recognised to help tinnitus and the stress, anxiety and depression so often linked with it. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and relaxation techniquesare methods which are known to work. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy looks at your thoughts, beliefs, behaviours and assumptions about tinnitus.
As with any illness there are emotions, fears and feelings attached. CBT allows you to deal with these and to re-focus your thoughts. The deep sense of relaxation necessary for hypnosis also allows you to feel comfortable and untroubled. Many sufferers report that they do not notice their tinnitus at all whilst in hypnosis.
If there’s an underlying physical problem which is causing your tinnitus then resolving this problem will in the vast majority of cases also completely resolve the tinnitus. Dealing with TMJ Disorder usually results in tinnitus improving or disappearing. If dealing with associated physical problems doesn’t sufficient improve your tinnitus, then CBT, relaxation techniques and hypnosis will. They’ll help you to cope calmly with any remaining tinnitus.
“Tinnitus only gets worse and worse over time”
This is just not true. Many sufferers report that their tinnitus improves or quietens down over time. This is sometimes due to physical or psychological changes. It might be because you’ve found a treatment which works for you, or because you’ve simply got used to it, or both. You may find that you get so used to the noise that you no longer really notice it. Others may need help to achieve a state of mind where they can re-focus their thoughts away from the noise.
How do hypnotherapy, hypnosis and CBT help to relieve tinnitus?
One of the most effective ways to treat tinnitus is to help you “switch off” from the noise. We can help you to reduce your awareness of it. It’s like not noticing a clock ticking, or the way that you breathe, or blink, or that your new shoes hurt. Like many everyday sensations, you just don’t notice them when you’re relaxed. Hypnotherapy allows you to attain a state of very deep relaxation. Then you’ll notice that the noise of the tinnitus just gets quieter and quieter.
You’ll be shown self hypnosis and relaxation techniques so you can become deeply relaxed whenever you need to. You’ll practice focusing attention away from the noise and towards other more pleasant sensations. The deep state of relaxation which you feel when in hypnosis allows the body to become less tense and this alone will help tinnitus. You might find that the problem is worsened by bodily tension, for example jaw clenching.
What is Tinnitus Retraining Therapy?
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy is a combination of counselling and “sound therapy”. Counselling – we use CBTand hypnotherapy – allows you to explore your emotional response to your tinnitus and helps you take less notice of it. Sound therapy is the masking of the tinnitus noise by creating other noise. Some people use the “white noise” created by fans, air conditioners, computers, air purifiers and other common electrical items.
It’s also possible to buy pillow speakers, and the Royal National Institute for the Deaf sells these from its website http://www.rnid.org.uk. These are not expensive and many sufferers find them extremely helpful, together with counselling. Many studies have shown that is the counselling which is the most effective part of tinnitus retraining therapy.
What else you can do to help tinnitus?
In addition to hypnotherapy and Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, some or all of the following measures can help. Exercise, reducing blood pressure, avoiding aspirin, salt, caffeine and other stimulants. Avoid quinine (which is in tonic water). Some studies also suggest that avoiding Vitamin E may help. All of the things which help insomnia will also help if your tinnitus makes sleeping difficult.
Alcohol and tinnitus
Whilst you may find your tinnitus worsens after drinking, you might also find that the increased relaxation resulting from a few glasses actually helps. There is no good reason to give up moderate drinking unless you are absolutely certain that it’s making your tinnitus worse. You could perhaps keep a tinnitus diary for 2 or 3 weeks. Rate the tinnitus, how loud it is, how much it bothers you, how it affects your sleep. Also keep a note of how much alcohol you’d had, and see if there’s a pattern.
Smoking and Tinnitus
Avoid nicotine and marijuana too. Smoking narrows your blood vessels which supply vital oxygen to your ears and their sensory cells. And stop smoking!
Hypnotherapy in Manchester
The therapists at Manchester Hypnotherapy have over fifteen years of experience in treating insomnia, anxiety, phobia and teaching self hypnosis. They are the top independently rated hypnotherapists in the UK.
If you want to find a hypnotherapist in south Manchester to help stress at work, stress and anxiety, emotional problems such as jealousy or insecurity, or low self esteem, then go to any of the independent review websites (for example www.freeindex.co.uk – Google also displays reviews). You’ll see the excellent results which the Manchester Hypnotherapy team have achieved.
For further information about hypnosis in Manchester, for insomnia, depression, for help with weight loss, to break bad habits, to help fear of flying or for any other problem, please call 07779 575 816 for a free, confidential discussion.
Tinnitus treatment in Didsbury, Manchester. Convenient for Chorlton, Gatley, Cheadle, Stockport, Altrincham, and all areas of south and central Manchester and north Cheshire.