Tinnitus is a condition that affects a staggering amount of people. For most it is an insignificant noise that may be heard while going to sleep at night in very quite environment, some people may also experience it temporarily after a loud concert. However for some it can be permanent, loud and can interfere with the quality of an individual’s life.
I have experienced severe tinnitus and have been told there is nothing that can be done to treat it. This is untrue which is why I have included this information on my website. I am happy to say that I no longer experience severe tinnitus or the sensitive hearing that accompanied it. I may occasionally hear it in quiet environments, or it may re-appear in times of stress but generally it’s no longer there. In order to treat tinnitus you must first have the correct information.
Unfortunately many doctors and health practitioners are working on the presumption that tinnitus is the result of hearing damage. This is untrue. Tinnitus does have a connection with loss (or partial loss) of hearing but it isn’t the result of damage to the inner ear. I am a musician with perfect hearing and I still experience tinnitus. Previous tinnitus treatments have failed because the condition has never truly been understood.
So what is tinnitus? Everybody has tinnitus - it’s just that not everybody hears it. The question is, why do some people hear it and why can it become a problem?
In 1953 Heller and Bergman performed a simple and classic experiment. They placed 80 tinnitus free individuals (university members) in a sound proofed room for 5 minutes each, asking them to report on any sounds that might be heard. The subjects thought they might be undergoing a hearing test, but actually experienced 5 minutes of total silence. 93% reported hearing buzzing, pulsing, whistling sounds in the head or ears identical to those reported by tinnitus sufferers. This simple experiment shows almost anyone can detect background electrical activity present in every living nerve cell in the hearing pathways as a sound. Although some areas of the auditory system may be more active than others, every neuron will contribute to some extent to the final perception of tinnitus. These electrical signals are not evidence of damage, but compensatory activity that occurs all the time in the auditory system of each one of us. This information was taken form
The ringing, whooshing and variety of strange noises that people experience are natural noises generated by electrical signals in the hearing pathways. The brain normally filters out a lot of this unnecessary noise because it is not essential to our survival.
Complete dead silence is unnatural, and when in a quiet environment the brain has the ability to turn up the volume (auditory gain). This is a survival reflex; a defense that the body developed millions of years ago when predators hunted humans. In times of danger the body’s nervous system can go into a state of red alert, also known as the fight or flight response. This reaction readies the body for action and this can also cause our hearing to become super-sensitive. It’s thought that a certain amount of hearing loss can be enough for the brain to compensate and turn up the volume and this is when tinnitus may be experienced. Other life events such as trauma, a car accident or a death of a loved one can cause the nervous system to go into a state of red alert, again making our hearing super sensitive. Tinnitus becomes a problem for some people purely because of their reaction to it. Being told there is nothing that can be done to treat it, or worrying that it may be a symptom of a serious illness, very often leads to a vicious circle were the tinnitus is constantly monitored and as a result it is perceived even louder, causing even more worry.
Pawel Jastreboff, a neuroscientist worked out exactly what tinnitus is and how it may be treated. Tinnitus retraining therapy is a very successful treatment that is based on Pawel Jastreboff tinnitus model. Although the NHS will refer people for this treatment many health practitioners still don’t recognize its value and are still stuck with their old outdated beliefs regarding hearing damage. More information on tinnitus retraining and Pawel Jastreboff can be found at http://www.tinnitus.org/
This essential reading for anybody who is troubled by their tinnitus. With Pawel Jasreboff’s tinnitus model in mind, there are a few different approaches to treatment. They all have similar goals and one of these goals is to change a person’s reaction to their tinnitus. First tests are done to make sure all is well with the ear function. It is important to rule out other conditions that may cause tinnitus such as medication or a simple build up of earwax. Once this is done time is taken to explain to the patient what tinnitus is. The aim is for the person to realize that the noise they are hearing is perfectly natural and not the result of irreversible hearing damage. It can take time but it makes all the difference. Once a person stops perceiving tinnitus as a bothersome threat they began pay less attention to it and in turn things start to get quieter. This is part of a process that can also involve counseling, it can take months, even years but it truly works.
I was treated by Julian Cowan Hill, a cranio sacral therapist who previously suffered from tinnitus for twenty years. The therapy slowly brought my body out of red alert and gave me a sense of well being. It was really valuable to talk to someone who had shared my experience. I slowly started to let go and eventually started to get better. Making other small changes like making sure I had a good night’s sleep, eating well and exercising helped. Julian’s approach was not to focus on getting rid of the tinnitus but to focus on being well and really looking after yourself. Once I stopped listening to my tinnitus and started focusing on being well I made great improvements. My treatment has taken time and naturally it has been a very ‘up and down’ process. Now I treat my tinnitus like a barometer. If I look after myself it’s not there but if I over do it, drink excessively (very excessively), have lots of late nights and stress it will re appear until I calm down again. Tinnitus truly wants the body to be well and happy so a lot of the treatment involves relaxing, self pampering and enjoying yourself. How bad is that? Cranio sacral therapy is one of the most incredible therapies I have experienced and I would recommend it to everybody. I am eternally grateful to Julian for his help and treatment.
You can find more information on Julian’s site
There is a lot of information about tinnitus, associated symptoms and treatment that I have not included. If your tinnitus is a problem I would strongly recommend thoroughly reading all the information available on these links. www.tinnitus.org www.cst.eu.com
Obviously I am not a doctor! Anybody experiencing any ear complaint must visit a GP or ear, nose and throat surgeon. It is important that your ear function is thoroughly checked out so other conditions can be ruled out.
There are plenty of myths surrounding tinnitus and plenty of negative people out there with the wrong information. If you type Tinnitus into Google 80% of the information will be based on out dated information. I am happy to answer any questions by email. There are still aspects of tinnitus I don’t fully understand and I can only offer advice based on my own personal experience.
You don’t have to suffer, tinnitus can be treated.