Tinnitus is a problem for over 45 million Americans. It affects older males and former smokers more than the rest of the population, although it can strike anyone at any time. At present, there is no known cure. The condition presents itself as a buzzing, humming, ringing, or hissing noise. While the brain usually adapts to this, it takes time and many want a faster solution. Certain antibiotics and other medication like antidepressants can actually aggravate the condition. Particular foods and stimulants (such as caffeine) can also worsen the problem.
It has been discovered that mindfulness meditation can help with a number of conditions, including hearing problems. Mindfulness practices date back to India more than 2,500 years ago, and are provided courtesy of the Buddha himself. Aside from helping lessen the symptoms, it can also ease the psychological strain associated with a chronic condition.
In order to meditate properly, it’s recommended that one doesn’t move around too much. The stillness is a way of relaxing both body and mind and creating an internal environment more conducive to good Zen. It may also feel somewhat uncomfortable initially to sit in a meditative pose. These feelings often subside with time, so patience is required. Perhaps most importantly, all thoughts that pass through the mind should be noted, but not engaged with. What this means is that they are acknowledged as neutrally as possible, without judging them as necessarily positive or negative. They are simply seen for what they are, and then let go. Counting breaths is a good way to focus the mind on something other than distracting thoughts.
Does Meditation Help Relieve Tinnitus?
A study conducted by doctors in Wales demonstrated the powerful benefits of mindfulness. 25 patients who suffered from chronic ringing utilized a combination of mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy. 6 months later, 80% of them showed a substantial reduction in symptoms.
A similar study done in the US showed promising results, as well. Through mindfulness practices, patients displayed marked reductions in depression, anxiety, and sleep disruption, along with a better ability to cope with the condition. Mindfulness also trains people to live in the present moment, which can aid them in remembering that the condition is likely a temporary problem.
How to Start Meditating
It’s recommended that sufferers take part in a guided mindfulness course. These courses often have high success rates, and are even becoming popular with healthcare workers. The condition may be aggravated by anxiety, and learning to relax can ease a person’s perception of the condition. Keeping the eyes open during practice may also help, as the external stimuli help distract the mind from the ringing. Incense and walking meditation work in similar ways, providing extra sensations for the brain to focus on rather than the noise.
Guided relaxation CDs are another great option. Through focusing on the speaker’s voice, attention is shifted to that rather than the unwanted sounds. Ambient sound is a good alternative, too; aside from being calming, it provides a similar effect to a human voice. It’s important to remember that everyone responds differently to different sounds, and what works well for one person may not work as well for another. Experimentation and openness are key to finding exactly what works for the individual.
Seeking Treatment for Tinnitus
Tinnitus is an invisible condition, meaning it is not readily apparent to other people, the way other medical problems can be. Because of this, it may not be taken as seriously by others or treated with the proper level of care. This does not, however, mean that it is not serious for the person living with it. If going on a meditation retreat, it’s recommended to seek out the retreat leaders and let them know of the condition, in order to receive suitable accommodations.
If you think you may be affected with tinnitus, it is important to see a hearing health provider. It’s strongly suggested that you get a hearing test performed at a professional clinic, as tinnitus is correlated with hearing loss and the issue may be a symptom of another ear problem. Do remember, however, that there are often more benign causes as well, such as earwax and certain medicines. Temporary ringing can also be caused by loud noises such as firearms and concerts, which can result in damage to the inner ear’s cells. Depending on the decibel level, adequate protection may be required.
Posey Hearing Center
If you’re struggling with tinnitus and have found that it has affected your everyday life, contact us today. We provide comprehensive hearing health services and we’re here to help!