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 in my own journey as a doctor of audiology especially in specializing in tinnitus i have 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 the five essentials that julian and i had discussed we must have self-soothing practices julian's going to 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 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 from the 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 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 they're 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 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're 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 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 uh personally uh 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 of 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 uh which program should i go with what should i do i want to i want to 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 it also gives some some power back some control back on your side who's trying to figure out how to do all 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 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 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 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 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 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 audio book or taking taking time to be social taking time to do other things that are are not tinnitus so shifting the attention whereas previously tinnitus was the 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 some something like that that we can shift our attention away

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