Tinnitus takes many forms and with the different types it means that it is different from person to person. I’ve gone through in previous posts how tinnitus can be developed and I’ve also gone through how to deal with tinnitus through various therapy types. Please see here for my free ebook on how to find better sleep if you have tinnitus for example.
Wherein I do believe that there are some great possibilities out there for a cure and current trials and tests are exciting the tinnitus community at large, there remains no date or definite point at which there will be something in the hospitals for us. Couple this with the varieties of tinnitus, unilateral v bilateral tinnitus, variety in causes, differentiation in diet etc it stands to reason that there may not be a silver bullet, one solution fits all, in fact I’m confident that there needs to be multiple solutions to cover all types which makes the ultimate goal harder.
Hand in hand with the therapies i’ve outlined during the sleeping with tinnitus series, another important one that some tinnitus sufferers are having success with is habituation which is something that a lot of sufferers are now looking at as they wait for this elusive cure.
What is habituation?
Habituation can be defined as reaching a state of mind where you no longer have a negative or emotional response to your tinnitus. In other words, you get to a point where it no longer bothers you. In accepting it rather than fighting it, you get less stressed and you get to live your life as much as possible without tinnitus being the number one thing that influences how you do it. Think about how you already habituate. You don’t feel the clothes you wear, the glasses on your nose you never think about, the braces you get on your teeth – you forget about. This is habituation.
There are a number of successful habituated sufferers and success stories out there and a quick search on popular forums will yield interesting and positive stories.
Can I habituate? What do I need?
If you are put into a sound proof room and told to listen intently to any sound that you hear you will find that even non-tinnitus sufferers will hear ringing, buzzing, hissing all of which are naturally put down as ‘head noise’ so in essence you could say that everyone has some form of tinnitus.
This is all diluted by everyday noise to the point that most people don’t even notice it and are naturally habituated until put into a situation where there is no dilution. There are very little places around where there isn’t some type of ‘normal’ everyday sound.
For a tinnitus sufferer, creating the opposite of the sound proof room can be described as ‘sound enrichment’ which falls under the heading of ‘TRT or tinnitus retraining therapy’ I did a post on sound therapy which is a type of TRT. Sound enrichment involves listening to other sounds so as to distract the mind away from tinnitus. Over time the mind/body reacts like it does to wearing glasses or clothes. For non critical or intermittent tinnitus sufferers, intermittent sound enrichment works and should be kept to times where one is more conscious of it. More critical sufferers, may have to go 24 hour TRT over a period of time.
The neutrality of some sounds makes them more preferable than others eg white noise, water falling, rain, birds chirping etc. makes them ideal as TRT sounds. There are interesting exercises here for further. http://tinnitus.org/trt-excercises/
In terms of equipment, you can either buy a TRT machine like a white noise machine or you can go for an easier option like an app on a smart phone. Check out some good apps here.
Not really equipment, but something you also need for habituation to work and that is PMA (positive mental attitude) It’s similar to learning to stop smoking – if you’re not 100% behind it it won’t work.
Hearing aids as TRT
There are a number of sufferers who are experiencing hearing loss along with tinnitus. Hearing aids amplify normal room/transient sound and in this respect can actually help to mask tinnitus.
How long to habituate?
Unfortunately, there are no quick solutions to TRT. Some sufferers report that it takes over a year. Here’s a good page on some people’s experiences https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/how-long-will-it-take-to-habituate.6594/
Finally, if you want to read about some other really good success stories, check out these https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/community/forums/tinnitus.aspx?g=posts&t=7678 seriously positive stories!
Hope this helped!