Tinnitus Treatment: 5 Things I Wish I’d Known Earlier

– Hello and welcome everyone
to defining recovery. This is a web class collaboration
with me, Ben Thompson and my colleague, Julian Cowan Hill. The tinnitus recovery
essentials, what Julian and I had talked about before this class these five essentials
are sort of your toolkit where if you're doing these five things you have a very high
likelihood of getting better. And there's some work that has to go into this as an audiologist, I did not typically get trained
on these kinds of things and it's not so much discussed
in the audiology community about what else to do other
than hearing aids, sound therapy and maybe cognitive behavioral therapy or cognitive behavioral techniques. So in my own journey,
as a doctor of audiology specializing in tinnitus I've realized that this
more holistic approach is the best opportunity to get better the best return on your
investment of time and energy.

So these are the five
essentials that Julian and I had discussed. We must have self-soothing practices. Julian's gonna get more into details on that during his part of this web class we must use sound therapy. And this is individualized. One thing I wanted to
bring up on this topic is that when we talk about sound therapy it's usually a combination of using sound from a speaker in the room you're in, being around natural sound as
much as possible from nature or where you live if there's
natural sound around you, trying to avoid the situation where you're in a quiet, isolated place.

And during COVID during Coronavirus this has become more challenging because many of us are
forced to stay home. And there's not so much sound stimulation in our everyday life. So we have to use sound as a
therapy to counteract the sound of the tinnitus and to create more time during your day where you can stay focused sound therapy typically breaks down into devices that are worn on the ear or sound that is played
in your room, around you as well as phone apps or sound
you can play from a phone.

The brain does not distinguish between, Oh this sound therapy. This sound that's entering
my auditory system. That's coming from a hearing aid. The brain cannot distinguish, Oh that's coming from a
hearing aid or that's coming from a speaker in my room,
or that's coming from the natural nature of the world around me. Let's say I'm out on a hike
or in nature or something. I wanted to bring that up
because people often think that sound therapy has to be
hearing aids and it's not true. The reason hearing aids are
popular for sound therapy and they're used for sound therapy is because it's sustainable
to have something on your ears that you can directly control that others around you
do not have to hear.

And that the sound
therapy can move with you without carrying a physical object like a white noise machine or the sound from your phone with you, but the auditory brain the part of the system that
benefits from sound therapy it does not distinguish between, Oh that sound is coming from a hearing aid versus that sound is coming from my iPhone or that sound is coming from
the speakers in my room. Having sound therapy can be very simple.

It can be as simple as playing constant low level classical
music in the background. Something like that is going to help us because comparatively the
loudness of the tinnitus is more manageable in those moments. So, as part of the recovery from tinnitus when we're thinking of what can we do? What is all that we can do in regards to getting better using sound as a therapy is definitely part of that. And if you've been
following Julian or myself you probably know that but don't forget that don't overlook that. And if you're finding
yourself being in quiet places with loud tinnitus and feeling anxiety, feeling stress, feeling
bothered, worried by it, having more background noise in your house that's probably a very good move. The third essential here we talked about is mind-body practices, personally maybe three or four years ago. When I started to research who
in the online tinnitus world is actually helping people get better. I started to become friends
with all the tinnitus experts who create online courses or have YouTube channels
or have written books.

And one of, and I tried
to find the common ground between all of these professionals because even though Julian, myself, some of the other tinnitus
professionals online we have slightly different
perspectives and approaches but there is a lot of common ground. And for someone who's wondering, Oh which program should I go with? What should I do? I wanna optimize, I want
to do everything I can. I like to remember and remind us that there is some common ground and a big part of that
is mind-body practices things like yoga, meditation, anything that can bring us
into a present state of mind and calm us but also
gives some power back, some control back on your side.

Who's trying to figure
out how to do all of this because instead of being helpless and just only relying on
someone else to help you some consistency with mind-body practices, like a guided meditation, a
guided breathing exercise, consistent practice of
gentle yoga or Tai chi. These things can slow
down the pace of the mind any anxiety or stress that's
built up around the tinnitus. It can ease and the physical body and the nervous system
can be calm as well. Julian, you're going to of course, expand on that in your part of this web class, number four is that we must calm the mind as much as possible and this can be challenging, right? When I'm feeling anxiety and I'm trying to calm my mind. Sometimes it's really
hard to do it on my own. Sometimes I need someone else to help me. And that might be a good opportunity to have a supportive group or an online supportive positive community or working one-on-one with a therapist or a tinnitus coach of some sort, anything that can calm the
mind is going to be beneficial.

What I've found recently is that the mind creates
these stories or these worries or these fears about the
future related to tinnitus and your quality of life. So it's beneficial to take something like a catastrophic thought of is my tinnitus is going to get louder? Is the rest of my life going
to be feeling like this? Looking at that and unpacking that. Working with someone who knows for most people what happens in the future with tinnitus and what you can do now to
prevent it from getting worse and actually make it get better. That's one example of how when we can take a catastrophic thought about worrying about the
future with tinnitus, unpack it, get some facts,
get some real experiences, talking to one of us, for example (indistinct) or this web class, hopefully it gives you information. So cognitively the mind can understand, okay these are my expectations that worry, that fear I had is probably not as serious as I once believed it was. That's an example of calming the mind and I'm gonna talk now
about the fifth one. So the fifth essential for recovery and getting better, is to shift your attention from tinnitus to other things in your life.

Try not to over monitor your symptoms, try not to keep a detailed log in your journal of how
loud is your tinnitus in the morning, in the
afternoon, in the evening try not to hyper focus
on the sound itself. If you're having a day where
it spikes and it's loud something that can be
beneficial is to just say, oh my tinnitus is allowed today, but I'm going to focus on whatever else I would typically do in my day. Maybe that's reading,
listening to an audio, podcast an audiobook or
taking time to be social, taking time to do other
things that are not tinnitus. So shifting the attention whereas previously tinnitus
was the foreground, all of your focus and
emotional energy focused on it. Try to do things, with try to have habits, try to have practices,
try to mentally say, okay I'm shifting tinnitus
into the background. That's one example of how
shifting your attention to other things in your
life can be beneficial.

Of course, right now, during
COVID during coronavirus it's hard to do things. It's hard to have social groups. It's hard to be outside, especially in the Northern Hemisphere
right now, it's winter. So, what can we do now
to shift our attention from tinnitus to other things, maybe this means picking up an old hobby that you really enjoyed,
something you can do indoors. Maybe this means working
with some kind of sounds or watching new movies
or something like that, that we can shift our attention away..

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