What’s that ringing in your ears? Do you hear a persistent ringing sound even when there’s no external source of noise? If yes, you’re experiencing tinnitus. This auditory sensation has been affecting people since ancient times, and roughly one in seven individuals worldwide suffer from it.
The root cause of tinnitus is related to how we hear sounds. When we hear something, sound waves trigger vibrations in various areas of the ear, which displace fluid inside the cochlea. These vibrations are transformed into bioelectric signals, which are then carried to the brain as nerve impulses.
However, in most cases of tinnitus, the nerve signals producing these sounds don’t come from the ear. Instead, they’re generated internally by the central nervous system. The background neural activity in the hearing pathway is usually essential for hearing, but it can be affected by factors like loud noises, diseases, toxins, and aging. This can damage cochlear cells, causing a reduction in sensitivity and making incoming sounds weaker.
To compensate, the brain increases its monitoring of the hearing pathway, which can modify the baseline for silence and make it sound like there’s a persistent noise. This is called subjective tinnitus and is a symptom of nearly every ear disorder.
Tinnitus can be distressing, especially if it triggers traumatic memories or causes anxiety and depression. There’s no cure, but doctors can help people manage their symptoms through therapy and counseling. Sound therapy, for example, uses soothing noises to mask tinnitus and reduce stress. This can help individuals re-evaluate their relationship with tinnitus and reduce its intrusiveness.
Tinnitus is a mysterious ringing in the ears that can be difficult to deal with, especially for those struggling with PTSD. But with the help of therapy and counselling, individuals can learn to manage their symptoms and live a more peaceful life.
Therapy & Counselling
Tinnitus therapy and counseling aim to help individuals cope with the distressing symptoms of tinnitus and improve their quality of life. Here are some commonly used approaches for tinnitus treatment:
- Sound therapy – This involves exposing the individual to soothing, calming noises like rain, bird songs or music to mask the tinnitus and reduce stress. Informational masking uses complex auditory signals that distract the brain from the tinnitus, while energetic masking uses sounds with the same frequency as the individual’s tinnitus to occupy the neurons that would otherwise deliver the tinnitus signal.
- Counselling – This may include individual or group therapy sessions that provide support and help individuals develop better coping strategies. It can also include cognitive behavioral therapy, which addresses negative thought patterns and beliefs associated with tinnitus.
- Relaxation techniques – Techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety levels, and ultimately minimise tinnitus symptoms.
- Lifestyle changes – Making healthy lifestyle choices, such as reducing caffeine and alcohol intake, and maintaining a healthy sleep pattern, can help reduce the intensity of tinnitus symptoms.
Tinnitus therapy and counselling are often most effective when used in conjunction with each other. With a combination of these treatments, individuals can learn to manage their symptoms and reduce their impact on their lives.