Tinnitus is a condition where you experience persistent ringing in your ears, and that only you yourself can hear. Tinnitus can produce a variety of sounds, however, including the sounds of buzzing, clicking, hissing, and/or whistling. These sounds are sometimes called “phantom sounds”; they can have a range of pitches (from low to high) and they can occur in one or both of your ears. Tinnitus can be caused by exposure to loud sounds and by injuries, such as a head-on collision during an athletic event. By and large, it is related to hearing loss, especially in older adults.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (otherwise known as the CDC), the condition affects at least 45 million people in the United States of America. That is a lot of people who are experiencing the sometimes debilitating effects of tinnitus. In fact, one one-third of those Americans find their tinnitus debilitating enough to seek medical attention in the hopes of soothing their symptoms and finding relief.
How Tinnitus May Affect Your Daily Life
Tinnitus can in fact make it very difficult to concentrate at work, at school, and with friends and loved ones. Tinnitus has been linked to insomnia and to anxiety, depression, and general irritability. There are some treatments for tinnitus, but there is no cure. One of the important things to consider when you are trying to treat your tinnitus is to simply understand when your tinnitus feels the most stressful. Tinnitus can be unpredictable, coming and going without warning, but some people find that their tinnitus gets worse in the evenings and before they go to sleep, as there are often fewer competing sounds that might otherwise mask the ringing.
Some of the prevailing tactics that people use to relax ourselves and clear our heads are actually quite difficult for people with tinnitus—these include activities such as yoga and meditation. These activities that promote quietness can feel simply impossible for people with an ongoing ringing in their ears. When you sit down to meditate (or do other quiet things, like go to sleep) tinnitus can feel like it is getting louder and louder. This is not actually the case, however. Tinnitus seems to amplify when other stimuli are removed. So, when you sit down to meditate, you have likely gone to a quiet part of where you live or work. You probably turned the radio or television off. Maybe you turned off your phone, putting it into silent mode. You may have asked people you live with to leave for a short while, or to refrain from talking or making noise. When you cut down on this external noise, the ringing, buzzing, whooshing, or clicking in your ears can feel impossibly loud.
Meditation to Help Tinnitus
There are, however, really great ways of incorporating meditation into your life, even if you are suffering from tinnitus, and there are a variety of ways that people have worked with and around their tinnitus in order to achieve greater mindfulness. Some people elect to wear earplugs while meditating, because earplugs block out external sounds, of course. More than this, earplugs magnify the sounds throughout all of our bodies, including the sounds of breathing and swallowing. In comparison to this noise, tinnitus can feel less intense. It should be noted, however, that some people with tinnitus simply cannot wear ear plug because it affects their sense of awareness and balance and, sometimes, simply amplifies their tinnitus.
Sometimes people with tinnitus meditate by specifically focusing on the ringing in their ears. Some forms of meditation ask you to remain focused on a single thought or sets of thoughts, which can help you from spinning out on a whole host of thoughts or worries at the same time. For some, spending time thinking about the sounds in your ears—what other sounds do they sound like, what is the volume and nature of the sounds—can in fact become calming and helpful for settling in one’s own body.
Other people distract themselves from the ringing in their ears by focusing on images around them—whether they be the simple details of the room you are meditating in or a specific piece of artwork you place yourself in front of. The goal is to balance the focus your body intuitively spends on the weird sounds in your ear with focus on an external stimulation.
Take some time to try these different methods of meditating with tinnitus. Some may work better than others, and some may work for a time and then stop working. Just try to practice patience and give yourself time to adjust.
Visit Us at Hearing Health
Tinnitus is often a linked with hearing loss. If you are experiencing some of the symptoms described above, contact us at Hearing Health for a consultation.